It’s quite wrong to assume that the United Arab Emirates, and the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have never looked back since the discovery of oil.
Founder and first president, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, believed a country without a past had “neither a present nor a future”. And that was very fortunate because, on June 28, 2011, the ancient city of Al Ain secured a UNESCO World Heritage listing.
Al Ain is a desert oasis about 120km south of Dubai and is a distinct alternative to the thrusting new cities.
It was once home to the late Sheikh Zayed and offers charm and originality, qualities immediately apparent at Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum, his Al Ain residence from 1937-66.