The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), has organised a two-day orientation trip of Al Ain city to 15 tour operators based in the United Arab Emirates, to find out facts and understand Al Ain's natural landscape, historic significance and cultural origins.
The TCA says UNESCO world heritage inscription, deep-rooted cultural experiences and an appealing natural environment have been identified as development levers in for tourism progression in the Oasis City of Al Ain – the heritage heartland of Abu Dhabi emirate.
"Diversity of product and an ever-increasing range of creative industry packaging based around the city's historic and world heritage site attractions is essential to maximise tourism's contribution to Al Ain's economic diversification," said Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director Tourism, TCA Abu Dhabi.
During the tour, the operators visited the Neolithic tombs in the foothills of Jebel Hafeet heights and the Bronze Age settlement remains at Hili Archaeological Gardens. They also toured the Al Ain Palace Museum – former home of ‘Father of the Nation', Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – the picturesque Al Jahili Fort and archaeological displays at the Al Ain National Museum which catalogue the city's unique heritage and history.
The operators, representing leading industry players from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, also explored the cool shady walkways of Al Ain and Al Qattara oases, delved into the remains of an Iron Age settlement deep beneath the Al Qattara Fort and Arts Centre and browsed the recently renovated historic Souq Al Qattara – set to be home to this October's inaugural National Traditional Handicrafts Festival.
Regarded as one of the world's oldest continually inhabited settlements, Al Ain, surrounded by the towering rocky heights of the Hajjar mountains, is fed by natural springs and home to lush palm plantations that have provided a source of food and shelter for civilisations dating back over 7,000 years - leading to UNESCO World Heritage status for five sites across the city in 2011.
The experts also visited Wadi Adventure, the man-made white water rafting, kayaking and surfing playground in the foothills of Jebel Hafeet, and toured the city's expanding accommodation and conference facilities.
Al Ain currently has 16 hotels with a joint complement of 2,016 rooms. In the first five months of this year some 147,386 visitors checked into Al Ain's hotels – a 15% increase on the same period last year. The visitors accounted for 297,960 guest nights – which was up 16% year-on-year – with an average stay of two nights.