The impressive Al Jahili Fort in the heart of Al Ain is one of the largest and most beautiful fortifications in the United Arab Emirates and can be visited as a carefully renovated museum.
In the west of the famous Al Ain Oasis, the Al Jahili Fort of Al Ain is located in the park of the same name. Like the Al Ain Palace Museum nearby, it is one of the most important historical sites and the most important sights of the oasis city of Al Ain. The fort also has a fixed place on our list of the top 10 sights in Abu Dhabi.
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Origin of the Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain
The Al Jahili Fort was built between 1891 and 1898 under Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa, making it one of the oldest buildings in the United Arab Emirates. At that time, it was built to protect the extensive date palm plantations, which helped fertile Al Ain to gain prestige and prosperity and make the idyllic "Garden City" famous to this day.
The ruling family around Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan also often used it as a summer residence to escape the heat from Abu Dhabi city on the coast. In the 1950s, it was partly extended by the British.
In 2007, the Al Jahili Fort was extensively renovated and now shines in new splendour. As with the original fort, only mud bricks and palm wood were used in the reconstruction.
It is still one of the largest and most beautiful fortifications in the Emirates. The mighty fortress is most magnificent to behold at night, when its defiant walls shine in the light of numerous spotlights.
Visit the Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain
The Al Jahili Fort is entered through a huge entrance gate that breaks through the 6m high fortress wall on the south side. Behind it, a 1300 square metre square courtyard opens up, around which the individual fortress wings and three 12 metre high defence towers are arranged.
In the north wing of the courtyard, a permanent exhibition of black-and-white photographs tells of the adventures of the desert explorer Wilfred Thesiger, author of the well-known travel diary "The Wells of the Desert".
The west wing hosts changing exhibitions and the south wing houses an information centre, café and shop. The inner courtyard is also regularly used as a more spectacular venue for various cultural events.
About 50m away from the fortress, in a south-westerly direction, is another round tower made of clay. Its four concentric circles are reminiscent of a wedding cake and earned it the nickname "cake tower". It bears a strong resemblance to the Bronze Age towers discovered in the Hili Archaeological Park, among others.
Al Jahili Park
Next to Al Jahili Fortress spreads Al Jahili Park, also known as Women's Park. This park is only open to women and children and offers an idyllic setting for walks and picnics with palm trees, artificial ponds and shaded areas. Men, by the way, can use the Jahili Public Park right next to it as a local recreation area.