Al Ain is the soul of the Emirate. Its spirit emerges from the unique conjunction of Jebel Hafeet, the nurturing oases and the majestic desert that have sustained continuous settlement over 5,000 years. It now exemplifies both the ancient Bedouin traditions and the modern aspirations of the Emirate.
Al Ain, which means 'the spring' in Arabic, holds many of the Emirate's greatest cultural assets relating to the national population's Bedouin roots and culture. Covering an area of approximately 1,350,000 hectares, the region of Al Ain is rich in areas of archaeological and environmental importance, characterized by the diverse landscapes of sweeping dunes and alluvial planes, along with agricultural activity and animal husbandry.
With majority of the region's population residing in Al Ain City, it is clear that the city is an important economic and social hub. Located in the plains descending west of the Hajar Mountains, the City of Al Ain is an ancient crossroads. For at least 5,000 years, it has offered a pleasant, cool respite from the heat of the surrounding desert. Al Ain is a city of lush oases fed by an ancient irrigation system known as 'falaj'. It is also the ancestral home of Abu Dhabi's ruling Al Nahyan family.
In 2007, the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities embarked on Plan Al Ain: Urban Structure Framework to help Al Ain evaluate and respond to current and future development challenges and support the evolution of the city into a model oasis community. This plan, released in April 2009, covers the City of Al Ain and thus was rebranded as Al Ain City Urban Structure Framework Plan in recognition of the geographical area that it covers. This long-term plan is part of the overall vision for the region of Al Ain.
In November 2009, following the release of the Al Ain City Urban Structure Framework Plan, the DPM began creating a regional development strategy for the settlements located in the 29 districts across the wider Al Ain region.
The Al Ain Regional Structure Framework will be combined with the Al Ain City Urban Structure Framework Plan to become Plan Al Ain, which alongside Plan Al Dhafra and Plan Capital, will provide a complete picture of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.