The UAE is known for its high-rise skyscrapers, expansive air-conditioned shopping malls and it’s vast variety of dining options, but we often overlook the many historical and cultural destinations – particularly the forts – that the country has to offer. As the weather across the country cools down, here’s a roundup of 3 forts you need to visit in the country:
- Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain: Now set against the background of a beautifully-manicured public garden, the stunning Al Jahili Fort – built in 1891 – was once the residence of the ruling Nahyan family and now plays host to a permanent exhibition featuring the escapades of Sir Wilfred Thesiger (affectionately referred to as Mubarak bin London). Although the original fort is currently under extensive restoration, the newly-built portion, including the open square courtyard and the gracefully-aged walls of the fort, offer a satisfying glimpse into the country’s humble beginnings and past.
Main highlight: Watch the videos showing the escapades of Sir Wilfred Thesiger’s experience living in Al Ain and of the generous hospitality of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
2. Al Bitnah Fort, Fujairah: Based in a village just 15 minutes away from Fujairah, the Al Bitnah Fort is a remarkable example of the country’s architecture in the 1800s with palm tree. Make sure to ask the tour guide to give you a complete tour of the fort so that you can fully understand the history and context of the Fort and how it was used to guard the Emirate’s ruling family’s ancestors against rival tribes and factions. The road to the Fort is quite rocky so make sure you have a four-wheel-drive car if you decide to venture there!
Main highlight: The stunning view of the palm orchards set against Fujairah’s rocky mountains from the top floor of the Fort
3. Masafi Fort, Masafi: Nestled conspicousuly amongst the deceript villas that dot most of the city, the Masafi Fort is a hidden gem built during the Portugese occupation of the country and restored by the ruling family. With one watchtower, a falaj (man-made underground aquifer) which is eerily remeniscent of the Roman Catacombs and exciting to explore and a humble mosque, the fort should definitely be on your visit list. A free tour guide makes the whole experience even more enjoyable.
Main highlight: Climbing the ladders to get to the top of the fort are worth the minor adrenaline rush
Can’t wait to share more of my travelling experiences with you across the country as the weather gets better. Watch this space for more :).