Al Ain is the largest city in the Eastern Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, is the home of UAE University and two major flight academies, is connected with excellent roads and highways to other cities of the Emirates, especially to Abu Dhabi (150 km east) and Dubai/Sharjah (140 km southeast) and borders with Omani town Buraimi as its twin city (Muscat is only few hours drive away).
In 1997 the City was placed second in the world wide competition “Nations in Bloom” in its category for communities of 50,000 to 300,000 population for achievements in landscaping, heritage management, environmental practices and its future planning.
Population and trends:
The population of Al-Ain has grown over 400,000 mark and had reached 341,300 in 1998 from 171,000 in 1985 and 120,000 in 1980 (The Planning Department of Al-Ain). The development and urbanization process has gone through a well thought-out master plan.
Physical characteristics of the city are dominated by major road and street network with roundabouts; horizontal expansion (building heights restricted to max. 4 stories); extensive vegetation and landscape; public gardens and distinctive existence of oasis within the urban fabrics.
According to a survey of visitors to the annual Al-Ain festival, 30% earn Dhs 6-10,000 or more and 33% Dh 3-6000 (Al-Ain Tourism Festival Survey 2003) that shows a strong middle class with fair to good buying power.
Al-Ain has a large industrial area with medium to large size industries and is surrounded by agriculture, dates farming and water and milk plants. It uses the ancient but efficient non-mechanized “falaj” irrigation systems that developed into major date plantations in a modern day Al-Ain.
The following news item, published in Khaleej Times (Dubai, May 18, 2004) reflects the tremendous growth witnessed by the city:
Al Ain, the garden city of the Gulf, is witnessing a tremendous boom in different economic sectors and social activities.
According to the Annual Statistical Book of the Al Ain Municipality and Town Planning Department, in 2002 the Department has issued 1062 new construction licenses (874 in 2001), only 53 of them governmental, 12902 trade licenses including 2556 for restaurants (2904 in 2001), and to maintain its position as the ‘bridesmaid of the world cities’, the number of parks increased to 26, covering an area of 4,138780 square meters, and raised the number of date palm trees to 1,04865.
Since the piece was written, a flight academy and a new large shopping mall has been added to the city besides a large number of small and middle size businesses and numerous housing compounds and new buildings, plus a five star Sheraton Hotel is also under construction.
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