Al Jahili Fort
Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan St - Al Jahili - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates
|⏰ Opening Hours
9:00 AM - 7:00 PM
|💸 Entrance Fee
Find it on google maps
What is Al Jahili Fort?
Al Jahili Fort is a beacon of the United Arab Emirates' historical architecture, standing proudly in the oasis city of Al Ain within the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Considered one of the largest forts in the UAE, it was built in the late 19th century and has been a cornerstone of the cultural fabric of the region.
The fort's imposing design reflects traditional Arabian architecture with its towering walls and watchtowers that once served as a defensive stronghold for the city. Today, Al Jahili Fort is not only a historical site but also a cultural and tourist attraction, offering insight into the region's storied past and hosting events, exhibitions, and cultural activities throughout the year.
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History of Al Jahili Fort
The history of Al Jahili Fort is intrinsically linked to the development of the United Arab Emirates. Constructed in 1891 under the orders of Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, known as Zayed the First, the fort was originally designed to protect the city and its palm groves, and to maintain peace within the region.
The fort witnessed the typical Arabian way of life for many years, as it served various purposes from a headquarters for the Oman Trucial Scouts, who played a pivotal role in maintaining peace among the tribes, to a locale for local government before undergoing extensive restoration.
Its restoration, which began in 2007, was overseen by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. The fort was meticulously refurbished to its former glory, paying homage to traditional building techniques while incorporating modern facilities for visitors. The grand reopening of Al Jahili Fort in 2008 marked it as an invaluable monument preserving the UAE's cultural heritage for future generations.
Why is Al Jahili Fort Important?
Al Jahili Fort's importance stretches beyond its physical structure; it represents the strength, resilience, and history of the people of the United Arab Emirates. It is a testament to the ingenuity of Arabian architecture and the strategic intelligence that underpinned its construction.
The fort was built in a time when tribal conflicts were common, and its presence helped to establish stability in the region. Reflecting on the importance of Al Jahili Fort, one understands the Emirates' transition from a collection of tribes to a unified, prosperous country.
Also, Al Jahili is important on a more modern cultural level—in its walls, you'll find exhibitions on the intrepid British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, also known as Mubarak bin London, and his crossings of the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) desert during the 1940s. These displays embody the bridge between Emirati culture and the wider world, honouring their historical relationship.
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Things to Do & See at Al Jahili Fort
Visitors to Al Jahili Fort have a plethora of activities and sights at their disposal. You can explore the fort's interior, encompassing courtyards, exhibition spaces, and defensive features including the renovated watchtowers. The architecture itself, with its robust walls made from mud bricks and the traditional falaj irrigation system, is a sight to behold, offering a feel of what life in a bygone era might have been like.
The fort hosts a permanent exhibition dedicated to Sir Wilfred Thesiger, showcasing his extraordinary journeys through stunning photographs and artifacts. Strolling through the lush, landscaped gardens surrounding Al Jahili Fort is an enjoyable contrast to the historical insights within the walls, perfect for contemplating the rich tapestry of Arabian heritage.
Families and cultural enthusiasts can also revel in the regularly held events, such as public workshops, cultural programs, and seasonal festivals that celebrate Emirati traditions. Al Jahili Fort frequently welcomes live music performances, art exhibits, and educational activities that breathe fresh life into this ancient structure, allowing visitors to engage with the UAE’s culture in a deeply personal way.