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April 3, 2002

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Tired of bright lights and big cities, it's time to head east into a different UAE, the smaller townships. Fortune's hand has touched these places as well. A bus brings us to Al Ain, the country's most important town that's not located on the coast. It's fed by an oasis. Some people claim history for the UAE began here, where stone age Bedouins settled under the date palms over 6,000 years ago. The waters of the Buraimi oasis carried and supported Al Ain into modern times. Abu Dhabi's current president, Sheik Zayed, the most powerful man in the UAE, came from Al Ain and hasn't forgotten his birthplace. He's spent millions modernizing this town. Al Ain sits on the border with Oman, and it's counterpart across the border, Buraimi, hasn't enjoyed the same prosperity as Al Ain. The two towns show contrasts; rich and well-watered Al Ain overshadows the provincial and comparably barren Buraimi.
Under a crushing afternoon sun, enjoy a shaded walk through the Buraimi oasis.
Shaik Zayed treats Al Ain like a favored son. Hard to believe this is a desert town.