Also known as the Garden City due to its greenery, is the second largest city in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates. With a population of 650,000 (2013), it is located approximately 160 kilometres (99 mi) east of the capital Abu Dhabi and about 120 kilometres (75 mi) south of Dubai. Al-Ain is the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the United Arab Emirates, and has the highest proportion of Emirati nationals (30.8%).
In Al-Ain, the mean annual rainfall is 96 mm and the average relative humidity is 60% (United Arab Emirates University, 1993). Low humidity in Al-Ain, particularly during the summers, makes it a popular destination for many people at that time of year. Boer (1997) classified the UAE climate as hyper-arid and divided it into four climatic regions: the coastal zone along the Persian Gulf, the mountain areas northeast of UAE, the gravel plains around Al-Ain area, and the central and southern sand desert. More rainfall and lower temperatures occur in the northeast than in the southern and western regions. The monthly average rainfall around Al-Ain was (100–120 mm) from the period 1970 to 1992.
Tourism and retail
Al-Ain is developing as a tourist destination. The dry desert air makes it a welcome retreat from the coastal humidity of the larger cities. Many Emirati nationals in Abu Dhabi have holiday houses in the city making it a popular weekend destination for families from the capital city. Its attractions include the Al Ain National Museum, the Al Ain Palace Museum, several restored forts and the Hili Archaeological Park site, dating back to the Bronze Age. Jebel Hafeet, a 1340-metre-high mountain, dominates the surrounding area. It is popular to visit to the mineral springs at the base and to drive to the mountaintop at sunset. Other attractions include the Al Ain Oasis in the city centre, other oases dotted around the area — all cool retreats in the middle of the summer heat — Al Ain Zoo, an amusement park named "Hili Fun City", many well-maintained parks popular with families in the summer evenings, and a heritage village. Opened in 2012, Wadi Adventure is located near Jebel Hafeet and provides a range of water-based activities including surfing, kayaking and rafting. On top of Jabel Hafeet is the Mercure Hotel.
Al-Ain has three major malls — Al Ain Mall in the town centre, Al-Jimi Mall in the Al-Jimi district, and Bawadi Mall located in the Al-Khrair District. Most commercial activity is centred in and around town centre.
Another popular pastime for Emiratis and expatriates alike is spending time in coffee shops and shisha cafes. There are many cafe's in Al-Ain, ranging in size and quality.
Al-Ain also has an International standard go-kart circuit. Al-Ain Raceway was selected to host the 2007 Rotax Max World Karting Finals, an event which saw 220 drivers from over 55 different countries compete for the Karting world title. Al-Ain Raceway opened to the general public in May 2008 and proves a popular activity for local Emiratis and tourists alike. It was announced in late 2010 that the 2011 Rotax Max World Karting Finals will be held at Al-Ain Raceway, this will bring nearly 1000 tourists to the small garden city.
Like the rest of the UAE, Al-Ain has strict laws governing the consumption and distribution of alcohol. Five facilities in the city currently serve alcohol, Four of which are hotels. The Al-Ain Rotana, Hilton, Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet and Danat Al-Ain Resort, hotels all have pubs, bars, or night clubs. In addition to the hotels, the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club in Al-Maqam also serves alcohol.
Currently, there are only four locations that sell alcohol for private use — Spinneys near Al-Jimi District, an outlet to the left of the Hilton hotel (next to the hotel's staff quarters), High Spirits Bottle Shop behind Lulu Hypermarket Sana`iya and the North Africa Market in Sanaiya.
The city has two English-language radio stations — 100.1 Star FM, which plays English-speaking hits alternating with Arabic-speaking hits, and 105.2 Abu Dhabi Classic FM, which plays classical music.