Since opening its gates in 2008, Al Jahili Fort – set about an hour and a half away from Abu Dhabi in the lush garden city of Al Ain – has been a focal point of activities associated with the philosophy, culture and heritage of Abu Dhabi. Al Jahili is one of the largest forts in the UAE, built in the 1890s on the orders of Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, also known as Zayed the First, as the home to members of the ruling Al Nahyan family.
Built of sun-dried mud brick, early restoration work was done on the fort in 1985, followed by a major rehabilitation project by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi between 2007 and 2008. Surrounded by a lush park, the enchanting fort has received the prestigious Terra Award for Internal Design and Layout in 2016.
Transformed into a cultural centre and tourist attraction, it now houses a temporary exhibition gallery as well as a permanent exhibition devoted to Sir Wilfred Thesiger. He was an intrepid explorer, travel writer and photographer who, with his Emirati and Omani companions, crossed the world's largest sand mass, the Empty Quarter (Rub' al Khali), twice in the 1940s.
Nearby must-visit attractions include the historical Jahili Mosque, built around the same time as the fort.
Frequently asked questions about Al Jahili Fort
When was Al Jahili Fort built?
The Al Jahili Fort was built in 1890.
How many historical forts are there in Al Ain?
There are under 15 historical forts in Al Ain but the more well-known ones are Al Jahili Fort and Qasr Al Muwaiji.