To celebrate its fifth anniversary as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we take a detailed look at the unique seaplane landing location of Al Ain.
Dating back almost 5000 years, this iconic desert oasis is one of the UAE’s most remote and unseen destinations. History has been wonderfully preserved and the serenity of nature is almost absolute. The only challenge is how to travel to Al Ain. This is a hidden destination, nestled in the desert beneath the dramatic mountains of the Hajjar.
Al Ain – the UAE’s Only World Heritage Site
Al Ain is the classic desert oasis. Dates and palms rise above mud-stone palaces, circular tombs date back 4500 years, and the architecture reflects classic desert colours. When it was entered onto the World Heritage list is was celebrated as a site that “testifies to sedentary human occupation of a desert region since the Neolithic period.” Architecture has been wonderfully preserved and there’s a strong sense of the innovation of ancient cultures. If you’ve ever visited the UAE in mid summer then you’ll appreciate the challenge of living in the desert. Al Ain showcases how to survive, thousands of years before electricity and air conditioning. Get lost in the postcard-perfect streets, marvel at the lost-world architecture, and watch ancient Arabia come alive before your eyes.
Neolithic and Iron Age Remains in Al Ain
Remarkably, Al Ain dates back much further than the vestiges of old adobe constructions and desert palaces. This is one of the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlements, a garden city that hides the evidence of distant civilisations. Aasophisticated aflaj irrigation system stimulates life in this remote and scorched land; incredibly, it dates back to the Iron Age. Neolithic remains are dotted across the area, including circular stone tombs that have fascinated archaeologists with their unusual design. UNESCO took notice and the six sites in Al Ain were entered on the World Heritage list in 2011. As a group, they provide an intimate showcase of how ancient tribes made the transition from hunter gatherers to urban life.
The Tropical Colours of Al Ain
Travel to Al Ain by seaplane and you’re immediately hit by its colours. The jagged Hajjar Mountains shimmer red, standing high above the city with an air of primitive brilliance. Sand dunes offer sweeps of orange and yellow as you cross the desert. Then green takes over. Al Ain is the iconic oasis and its garden of dates and palms stretches over a staggering scale. The contrast is unfathomable, a mass of exotic green rising alongside the subtle soft orange colours of the desert.
Travel to Al Ain
Getting to Al Ain has always been the challenge. Much of Al Ain’s preservation can be credited to its remote desert location. Driving from Abu Dhabi it will take about two hours to cross the desert. If you’re coming from Dubai, road ravel to Al Ain is a similar two hour drive through the wilderness. There is a public bus service from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain; if you’re coming from Dubai then you’ll need to change buses in Dubai. Or you could make it all much simpler and fly, taking off from central city locations and landing in the heart of the history. Jet Ops has exclusive permissions to land seaplane charters at Al Ain International Airport.
Travel to Al Ain by Seaplane
The tiny Al Ain International Airport offers the convenient landing location for our seaplanes. Only three airlines offer scheduled flights to the airport and none of these operate services within the UAE. Plans are in place to expand the airport and meet growing demand for inbound tourism. At the moment it remains almost spookily quiet. Touch down at Al Ain International and you’re on the edge of the World Heritage city. A transfer from airport to the heart of the city takes just ten to fifteen minutes.
Luxury Travel to Al Ain from Anywhere in the UAE
Al Ain immerses you in a different era. Touch down and you’re immediately transported into the heritage of Arabia’s past. The change can be unfathomable, particularly if you’ve just flown from Dubai and its towering skyscrapers. With a seaplane charter you can travel to Al Ain from any of 30 locations across the UAE. It’s rare that the aerial journey takes more than an hour, even if you’re coming from as far as Oman or Sir Bani Yas. Take off from the water of Abu Dhabi Yas Marina, depart the remote peninsula of Zighy Bay, fly from Dubai or even fly from Qatar. With a seaplane charter, travel to Al Ain is quick, comfortable, and convenient.
Customised Seaplane Charter to Al Ain
Jet Ops has exclusive permission to land seaplanes at Al Ain International Airport. Seaplane charters are available 365 days a year and all routes are customised to your needs. This includes transporting large groups to Al Ain and taking off from other remote locations across the Middle East region.