Explorer Level Novice – A Day Trip to Al Ain, UAE

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Friday 7 February 2014

United Arab Emirates has rich history and is full of archaeological treasures. Interesting sites spread across all Emirates, some as old as 150BC. Accustomed to today’s easy style of living, visiting such site always makes one wonder how those people managed to live in such harsh environment.

This time I managed to steal away my good friend Yasir Bilal (YB) from his home ministry for half day and explore some of the appealing sites spread across Al Ain.

Al Ain (literally The Spring) is a peaceful green city of Emirates of Abu Dhabi and has many interesting reasons to visit. It is located approximately 120 KM south of Dubai.


 1. Bida Bint Saud Alternative Name Qarn/Garn Bint Saud

Location: N 24 22 58.72 E 55 43 06.26

I set off early morning from Dubai and picked up YB from Al Ain near University of Abu Dhabi located at E22. Weather was near perfect, Sunny day with scattered clouds.

We tried the GPS coordinates given at The Megalithic Portal http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=25086 but it led to a completely different site.

We stopped at a local cafe for coffee and direction. YB tried his exceptional Arabic language skills with some of the locals and ended up using sign language but to no avail.

After wondering for almost half an hour and with some help of Google Map on our mobile we finally hit the right point. The site was fenced off and locked. There was a sign board giving some details about the site.

It is actually a burial site and numerous graves have been discovered on top of the outcrop which belongs to the period of Iron Age, around 1300 to 300 BC. Whereas some tombs discovered at base of the hill dates back to 3000 BC.


 2. Hili Archeological Park

Location: N 24 17 34.18 E 55 47 32.01

Approximately 10 kilometers outside Al Ain towards Dubai is the Hili Archaeological Park.

Hili Park has some of the largest Bronze Age complexes in the UAE dating back to 3000 BC.

The site known as Hili “1”, located next to the GrandTomb (12m diameter tower) inside the park, was once a high tower standing above ground, meticulously cut stone blocks and animal/human images at the entrances. Foundations of a thick circular boundary which contains remnants of several rooms and a well in the centre of the building is located here. These archaeological finds belong to the Umm Al-Nar culture.

Remains of similar buildings were discovered in other areas of Hili. These remains provide evidence that the people of south-east Arabia once lived in houses of sun dried mud brick and buried their dead in collective graves built of stones. Remains of these tombs are also located inside the park. Other tombs of different layouts are also located here.

UNESCO also highlighted Hili’s significance as it features “one of the oldest examples of the sophisticated aflaj irrigation system which dates back to the Iron Age”. The property provides important testimony to the transition of cultures in the region from hunting and gathering to sedentarization,” UNESCO said.

Visiting Hili Archaeological park is worth an effort. It provided insights into the advancement in this region and life of the people who used to live here.

Finds from the site can be seen in the Al Ain National Museum in central Al Ain. Other remains include settlements, tombs, and a falaj dating from the Iron Age.

The park also has playgrounds, coffee shops, and picnic areas good place for family to enjoy a peaceful weekend. Many Tourist operators bring foreign tourist in groups to this park as well.


 3. Mubazzarah Historical Dam

Location: N24 05 53.52 55 S44 31.03

This Dam was created by Sheikh Zayed in 1955. It is located at the base of Jabel Hafeet at the end of Chalets. Not much information is available about the Dam. It is not a very large dam but considering the time it was created and availability of resources it must have been a great achievement of its time for the young nation.

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