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Updated 2 Dec 2011

Al Ain – whose name translates to 'the spring', and which is also known as 'the Garden City' for its surprising greenery – is the second largest city in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, and the fourth largest overall in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Al Ain is still somewhat 'undiscovered' by expatriate workers: it is, in fact, the city in the UAE with the largest number of Emirate nationals. However, this should not discourage expat workers moving to this part of the UAE, as not only is Al Ain bound to grow in popularity, but it also possesses its own considerable charms.

Featuring a far slower pace of life than Abu Dhabi city or Dubai, Al Ain also retains a far more palpable 'local flavour' to it – perfect for expats who seek a new cultural experience as much as a large pay cheque from their time abroad. Furthermore, Al Ain is perfectly situated for travel within the UAE and to its neighbouring countries; it is located on the Omani border, and is only 82 miles (130km) from both Abu Dhabi city and Dubai. 

Al Ain, despite lacking in the obvious high-rise glamour of Abu Dhabi city and Dubai, still has a wealth of cultural attractions for expats to fill their leisure time with. Its top sights include the Al Ain National Museum, the Al Ain Palace Museum, several restored forts and the Hili Archaeological Park, which features ruins dating back to the Bronze Age. The city is also home to three major malls and a wonderful selection of traditional open-air market-places (souqs), where all sorts of things can be bought. Within the UAE, Al Ain is seen as somewhat of a cultural retreat for citizens of Abu Dhabi city and Dubai, featuring popular cultural events like its Classical Music Festival.

Although the presence of multinational companies and large domestic businesses is still relatively minor in Al Ain, it is a great destination for expats looking to find work in the fields of education or healthcare. Al Ain is home to the United Arab Emirates University, several Higher Colleges of Technology, and has its own campus of the University of Abu Dhabi.

All in all, although Al Ain – unlike Abu Dhabi city and Dubai – doesn't yet possess a reputation as a great expat destination, it is bound to achieve this status soon; and expats looking to move to the United Arab Emirates should give any Al Ain job offers they receive some serious consideration.

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