South of the centre, spreading west from the National Museum, a dusty green wall of palms announces the presence of the beautiful Al Ain Oasis, the largest of the various oases scattered across the city (the name Al Ain, means, literally, “The Spring”). This is easily the most idyllic spot in the city, with a mazy network of little walled lanes running between densely planted thickets of trees. There are an estimated 150,000-odd date palms here, along with mango, fig, banana and orange trees, their roots watered in the summer months using traditional falaj irrigation channels, which bring water down from the mountains over a distance of some 30km. It’s a wonderfully peaceful spot, the silence only broken by the calls to prayer from the two mosques nestled among the palms, and pleasantly cool as well. There are eight entrances dotted around the perimeter of the oasis, although given the disorienting tangle of roads within you’re unlikely to end up coming out where you entered.

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