Ayn, al-

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The second-largest city in the emirate of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Originally one of nine oasis villages in the Buraymi region, the urban conglomeration of modern alAyn has enveloped the six villages that became part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after the resolution of the Buraymi Oasis dispute. The region around al-Ayn contains some of the most important archaeological sites in the UAE. For example, the country's oldest monumental sites are located at Jabal Hafit, south of al-Ayn, and include hundreds of tombs that date to 32002800 b.c.e. The ruler of Abu Dhabi has encouraged the study and promotion of the emirate's early history, much of which is showcased at al-Ayn's historical museum. Al-Ayn means "the spring" in Arabic, and in addition to having wells and springs, the oasis has been watered for centuries by a series of man-made underground channels (aflaj in Arabic; sing. falaj), a technique also found in Iran. Until the advent of oil revenues, alAyn's economy depended on oasis agriculture, links with pastoral nomads, trade, and migrating laborers who fished and pearled in the Persian Gulf. Modern al-Ayn continues to be an important agricultural region. In addition, the city hosts the Emi-rates University, Zayid Military Academy, a historical museum, and a world-class zoo.

see also buraymi oasis dispute.


Kay, Shirley. Emirates Archaeological Heritage. Dubai: Motivate Publishing, 1986.

Vine, Peter, and Casey, Paula. United Arab Emirates: Profile of a Country's Heritage and Modern Development. London: Immel Publishing, 1992.

Anthony B. Toth