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Al Ain Watchtowers Gallery

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Al Ain Watchtowers

The city of Al Ain was once a collection of individual oases, separated by stretches of desert. In ancient times, families and tribes farmed their oases and, on occasion, were required to protect themselves and their possessions from raids. Over time, the families and tribes constructed towers to watch out for raiders and to provide a vantage point from which to defend themselves. These towers were eventually complemented by other structures, including walls, forts and fortified houses.

  • A classic enlarged round tower
  • A square tower inside a circular defensive wall
  • View from tower - canopy of date palms
  • View from tower - cultivated fields
  • Modern 'window' shuttered from inside
  • Slots and openings for defenders
  • Fortified structure in the Hili oasis
  • Fortified structure in the Hili oasis
  • Classic watchtower in Qattara oasis
  • The door into the tower
  • A narrow round tower with door at ground level

Al Ain Watchtowers


In the present-day city of Al Ain, there are at least 60 of these constructions, many of which have been renovated and reconstructed by the families or the Ministry of Antiquities.

One of the first surveys undertaken by ENHG member Phil Iddison -- using one of the first digital cameras available -- was to document some of these watchtowers and fortified buildings.

Photos by Phil Iddison



Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan