Exploring the historic grandeur of Al Jahili Fort.

The Jahili Fort is one of the largest forts in the UAE. Al Jahili Fort, a striking example of traditional mud-brick architecture, stands as a testament to the historical and cultural heritage of the United Arab Emirates. Built in 1898 under the leadership of Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nayhan, the fort served multiple purposes, including providing a summer residence for the ruling family and safeguarding vital water sources in the region's oases. Visitors today can explore its storied past and marvel at the fort's design, while also delving into the adventures of Wilfred Thesiger through a dedicated exhibition. This blend of historical function and modern exhibition makes Al Jahili Fort a captivating destination for those interested in the region's late 19th to mid-20th-century history and its rich cultural connections.


The Al Jahili Fort, initially built under the orders of His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Khalifa in the late 19th century, played a significant role in the history of Al Ain. Its construction, starting in 1891 and concluding in 1898, was aimed at providing a strategic base to manage and oversee the Bani Yas Tribe. Following Sheikh Zayed's death, his eldest son continued to govern from the fort, but it was eventually abandoned for reasons that remain unclear. In the 1950s, the British took over the fort, transforming it into their central headquarters and expanding its structures. This period of British occupancy lasted until 1970, marking a significant chapter in the fort's history.


1.Design: The fort is a classic example of traditional Arabian architecture, reflecting the local heritage and construction techniques. The structure includes high, thick walls made from sun-dried mud bricks, which provide insulation against the desert heat.

2. Features: Jahili Fort comprises several notable features:

   - Towers: The fort has four corner towers, which were used for surveillance and defense.

   - Courtyard: A large central courtyard is surrounded by the main buildings.

   - Rooms: Numerous rooms and chambers are within the fort, including living quarters and administrative offices.

   - Mosque: There is a small mosque within the fort for the residents and soldiers.

Restoration and Museum

1. Restoration: The fort has undergone several restoration projects to preserve its structure and history. The most recent restoration was completed in 2008, ensuring the fort remains a prime example of Emirati heritage.

2. Museum: Today, the Jahili Fort houses a museum that offers exhibitions about the history and culture of Al Ain and the UAE. One of the notable exhibitions is dedicated to the life and work of British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, who traversed the Arabian Peninsula in the 1940s.

 Cultural Significance

1. UNESCO World Heritage Site: Al Ain, including Jahili Fort, is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognized for its cultural and historical significance. The fort contributes to Al Ain’s status as a vital location in the cultural heritage of the UAE.

2. Events and Activities: Jahili Fort hosts various cultural events, exhibitions, and educational activities. These events aim to promote the heritage and traditions of the UAE, making it a vibrant cultural hub.

Visitor Information

1. Location: The fort is situated in the city of Al Ain, near the Al Ain Oasis, making it accessible to tourists exploring the oasis and other historical sites in the area.

2. Access: It is open to the public, and visitors can explore the fort, the museum exhibits, and the surrounding gardens.

3. Facilities: The site includes visitor amenities such as guided tours, informational displays, and sometimes interactive exhibits.

The Jahili Fort stands as a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of the UAE, offering visitors a glimpse into the past and the opportunity to learn about the traditional way of life in the region. 

Location: The fort is located at Sultan Bin Zayed Al Awwal Street, Al Mutawaa, Al Ain.

Entry Fee: Entry is free for the public.

Visiting Hours : Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm

Friday: 03:00 pm to 05:00 pm

Mondays closed

How to Reach: 

However, if you prefer not to drive, the X90 bus is a convenient alternative. This bus departs from Abu Dhabi and heads directly to Al Ain. Once you arrive in Al Ain, the fort is easily accessible by foot from any of the local bus stops, as all bus routes in Al Ain are within walking distance of the fort. 

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