Al Ain, located 160 kilometers east of Abu Dhabi on the Omani border, is known as the Garden City of the United Arab Emirates. Known for its low humidity and scenic surroundings, it is a popular destination for Emiratis and tourists alike. It is home to several luxury oasis hotels and Jebel Hafeet Mountain, a popular sunset viewpoint.
One of Al Ain’s more popular tourist experiences is the Al Ain Camel Market. Situated behind the Bawadi Mall on Mezyad Road, the Al Ain Camel Market is open daily during daylight hours and is a traditional livestock market in the Bedouin style. In addition to camels, there are goats, sheep and cattle offered for sale, as well as livestock and veterinary supplies. However, the camels are the main attraction, for buyers and tourists alike. Camels from as far away as Sudan and Pakistan are accompanied by their shepherds and offered for sale. Young camels, old camels, riding camels and meat camels are housed in pens while the sellers and buyers congregate outside.
Be prepared to be one of the only tourists at this market. Also be skeptical of shepherds escorting you into their camel pens to see the babies or sit on one of the adults. After the photos are taken, they will often demand payment. It is wise to agree on a price before entering the camel pens. In addition, this is first and foremost a livestock market, and while the camels and other animals appear to be treated well, it is not an animal park and there is obvious indication of that.
The camels and their handlers are a bit of Bedouin life in the heart of the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates. The animals are beautiful and the men charged with their care lend a very traditional feel to this market. An easy drive from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the Al Ain Camel Market is a great escape from the bustle of either city. Bring your cameras and sunscreen and enjoy this slice of traditional Arab life.