Al Jahili Fort

Al Jahili Fort lies in the city of Al Ain, in the emirate of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The present city of Al Ain was originally a group of oases, separated by desert, centered in an area of some 24 km², just north of the Jebel Hafeet mountain. Originally the area was known as Al Buraimi Oasis. In the late 19th and early 20th century a large number of forts and towers were built to solidify Abu Dhabi's control over the oases and to protect the settlements and oases from roaming bandits.

In 1952 Saudi Arabia sent raiders to capture Al Ain's forts and incorporate the oasis into the Saudi kingdom. Forces from the Trucial Oman Scouts, as well as the army of Muscat-Oman, arrived to recapture the oasis. With British intervention, the Saudi forces surrendered.

After the independence of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, Abu Dhabi and Oman agreed on final borders, dividing the oases. The Abu Dhabi part was then known as Al Ain and the Oman part as Al Buraimi. From then on Al Ain experienced rapid growth, quickly becoming larger and more successful than Al Buraimi.

Al Jahili Fort was built between 1891 and 1898 by Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. By then it consisted only of the square inner fort and a free standing, round watch tower, composed of 4 concentric tiers. It was the first fortification to protect the Al Ain Oasis. Later it was joined by nearby Al Hosn Fort. After the death of its founder in 1909, the fort became the residence of his elder son Khalifa bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nayhan.

By the early 1950's the fort had fallen into disrepair. It was restored when it was requisitioned by the English as a barracks for the Trucial Oman Levies (and later Scouts). They added the rectangular defensive wall, incorporating the inner fort and the watch tower, creating a large courtyard. Against the inside of the defensive wall, barracks and service buildings were built.

The beautiful present gate building, with its 2 towers, was originally just a simple wide gate to accomodate military vehicles. Only after the fort's military use ended, around the early 1980's, the present gate building was built.

At present Al Jahili Fort can be visited for free. The old barracks now contain a small museum which holds a permanent exposition of the beautiful photographs made by the English explorer W. Thesiger in the 1940's. This exposition alone makes a visit worthwhile. A great fort.


Gallery

Al Jahili Fort

Al Jahili Fort lies in the city of Al Ain, in the emirate of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The present city of Al Ain was originally a group of oases, separated by desert, centered in an area of some 24 km², just north of the Jebel Hafeet mountain. Originally the area was known as Al Buraimi Oasis. In the late 19th and early 20th century a large number of forts and towers were built to solidify Abu Dhabi's control over the oases and to protect the settlements and oases from roaming bandits.

In 1952 Saudi Arabia sent raiders to capture Al Ain's forts and incorporate the oasis into the Saudi kingdom. Forces from the Trucial Oman Scouts, as well as the army of Muscat-Oman, arrived to recapture the oasis. With British intervention, the Saudi forces surrendered.

After the independence of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, Abu Dhabi and Oman agreed on final borders, dividing the oases. The Abu Dhabi part was then known as Al Ain and the Oman part as Al Buraimi. From then on Al Ain experienced rapid growth, quickly becoming larger and more successful than Al Buraimi.

Al Jahili Fort was built between 1891 and 1898 by Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. By then it consisted only of the square inner fort and a free standing, round watch tower, composed of 4 concentric tiers. It was the first fortification to protect the Al Ain Oasis. Later it was joined by nearby Al Hosn Fort. After the death of its founder in 1909, the fort became the residence of his elder son Khalifa bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nayhan.

By the early 1950's the fort had fallen into disrepair. It was restored when it was requisitioned by the English as a barracks for the Trucial Oman Levies (and later Scouts). They added the rectangular defensive wall, incorporating the inner fort and the watch tower, creating a large courtyard. Against the inside of the defensive wall, barracks and service buildings were built.

The beautiful present gate building, with its 2 towers, was originally just a simple wide gate to accomodate military vehicles. Only after the fort's military use ended, around the early 1980's, the present gate building was built.

At present Al Jahili Fort can be visited for free. The old barracks now contain a small museum which holds a permanent exposition of the beautiful photographs made by the English explorer W. Thesiger in the 1940's. This exposition alone makes a visit worthwhile. A great fort.


Gallery