Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage is happy to announce the official opening of Al Jahili Fort. The fort will be inaugurated on the 3rd of December 2008 at 6.00pm to commemorate the occasion of the National Day Festivities.
Located in Al Ain city center, Al Jahili Fort was built by Sheikh Zayed the First (Sheikh Zayed Bin Khalifa) in the 1890s. One of the largest forts in the country, Al Jahili Fort is well known for having been home to members of Al Nahyan ruling family. It was later re-used by the Trucial Scouts, at the beginning of the 1950s.
For the past two years, Al Jahili Fort has been at the centre of an ambitious rehabilitation project implemented by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. The historic fabric of the building has been carefully preserved and sensitive restoration work has transformed the fort into an active cultural centre and visitor destination.
The fort will now house a visitor information centre, a temporary exhibition gallery, a permanent exhibition on the explorer, travel writer and photographer Mubarak bin London (Wilfred Thesiger, who twice crossed the Empty Quarter in the 1940s), a bookshop as well as a small lounge. An innovative walk-through audio-visual installation will be added to the fort’s cultural offer in March 2009. This multi-media experience, which will be displayed in the fort’s iconic round tower, will focus on the history and development of Al Ain city.
The conservation of Al Jahili Fort is unique in the sense that it combined a mix of traditional materials and construction techniques with some of the latest modern technologies. The aim was to alter the building as little as possible, whilst at the same time equip it with the requirements of a modern visitor facility. New construction at the fort was designed to harmonise with the existing building. The result is a sympathetic blend of ancient and modern, bringing new life to the historic building.
The natural climate control of the traditional mud brick (adobe) has been further enhanced by embedding cold water pipes into the mud plaster of the walls. As a result, the internal climate remains at a comfortable 22° C. For additional cooling, cold air ventilation is controlled by intelligent sensors, helping to further minimise energy consumption.
Al Jahili Fort has now returned to its rightful place as one of the most significant historic buildings in Al Ain. As in the past, the fort will once again become a meeting and gathering place for the whole community to enjoy.