Ajman is the capital of the eponymous and smallest emirate within the UAE. It neighbors Sharjah to the southwest and Umm al-Qaywain to the northeast. The ten-kilometre long resort area of this intimate city stretches along the Arabian Gulf, with its historic, administrative and commercial districts clustered around the natural Gulf of Khor Ajman, which juts into the coast in two branches for several kilometers.
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By the standards of luxurious Abu Dhabi and Dubai, metropolitan Ajman looks like a provincial Arab town, but despite its diminutiveness and outward modesty, it has a lot to offer guests. Spacious white beaches, bathed by warm azure waters of the Persian Gulf, perfectly equipped, and all year round please tourists the opportunity to spend time in idle serenity, or to give preference to dynamic recreation, diving, surfing, water-skiing, motorcycle riding. Located in the resort area of Ajman modern hotels offering a high level of service, and its old quarters with traditional Arabic architecture greet travelers with the same Eastern hospitality and friendliness.
The capital of the tiny emirate can’t boast particularly outstanding sights, and you won’t find such dizzying attractions as in Dubai here, either. However you can easily be in one of the neighboring emirates, because Ajman is part of the big megalopolis – the urban agglomeration Dubai – Sharjah – Ajman, and is connected to these cities by excellent highways.
History and modernity
The history of Ajman, and the wider region in which the United Arab Emirates is situated, dates back to prehistoric times. Nomadic tribes have lived here for centuries and the area takes its name from one of them. People in this land have long been engaged in fishing, breeding camels and fishing for pearls. In 1803, the Nuaymi tribe was established as the leader of Ajman and the leader declared the territory an independent state. Representatives of the Nuaymi dynasty ruled the emirate to this day.
In 1820, Ajman, as well as neighboring states, signed a General Treaty of Peace with Britain, was under its protectorate. The city grew, trade flourished and a port was built on the Gulf of Khor Ajman, followed by a shipyard where they began to build the traditional Arabian dhows.
Ajman Fort in 1980
For a long time, the pearl trade brought the main profit to the Ajman’s treasury, but from 1930 the income began to fade: at that time the technology of producing artificial pearls was developed in Japan, which gradually began to be applied in other countries. Shipbuilding, on the other hand, continued to develop and improve here. Today, the city’s shipyard, in addition to traditional dhows, produces motor boats, yachts, lightweight and durable boats of fiberglass. Ajman Shipyard has become so famous that clients from other Middle Eastern countries come here to order exclusive vessels.
As part of the new state of the UAE formed in 1971, Ajman has not experienced the boom of neighboring emirates, as there is no oil production. To attract investment in trade and construction, the Ajman Free Zone was established around Ajman’s port, and non-resident foreigners were given the right to full ownership of real estate, which is not allowed in other emirates. The tourist infrastructure is developing slowly but steadily here: the luxury coast is gradually being built up with hotels, including those owned by famous international brands, and the number of shopping and entertainment centers is increasing. According to the authorities, the lack of “dry law” should also attract tourists here. In Ajman even opened a specialized store with the symbolic name “Holl in The Wall”, where you can buy alcoholic beverages (previously it was located near the hotel “Kempinski”, but today it has moved to the “Beech Hotel”).
Attractions and Entertainment
The main attraction of Ajman is the National Museum of History, located in the building of an old fort, which was built in the 18th century near the Persian Gulf. In 1820 the fort was badly damaged by the artillery fire of the British warships. After the conclusion of the General Peace Treaty with the British, the fort was rebuilt and became the residence of the ruling sheikhs in Ajman. In 1981 a museum was opened here. It presents historical, archaeological and ethnographic expositions and has a rich collection of ancient weapons. Museum exhibits and wax models recreate the atmosphere of bygone eras and the former and modern ways of life of the local population and make it clear what drastic changes have taken place here in the last 50 years.
Ajman National Museum of History
The most ancient landmark of Ajman is the square watchtower. This yellowish stone structure has been preserved in its original form. The tower is located on the bay and can be seen on the approach to the town.
Near the National Museum, one can see the Sheikh Zayd Mosque with its magnificent dome and four graceful minarets. Like the famous White Mosque in Abu Dhabi, it is dedicated to one of the founders of the country and its first president, Sheikh Zayd bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It is a building with laconic pure forms and facade decorated with carved cream stone and looks very impressive situated on the stone paved square.
The residence of the Emir of Ajman is also interesting in terms of architecture. It is not possible to enter it, of course, but it is worth admiring this modern structure in the evening, when it is illuminated and looks especially nice.
A stroll along Ajman’s waterfront is a pleasure at any time of day or night. The promenade offers beautiful views, and everything you need for a relaxing holiday: cozy restaurants and cafes where you can smoke hookah, souvenir shops and stores.
The fish market is the most exotic part of the city that you just need to capture on photos and videos. From seven in the morning till ten in the evening, with a small break for lunch, there is life and unimaginable noise: at dawn fishermen unload the catch, and from 17:00 begins wholesale, in oriental expressive trade with exchange rates.
If you’re in Ajman between October and March, be sure to check out the camel racing that takes place during this time. The main race track is set in a desert area just a short distance from Sharjah Airport in the neighbouring Emirate. The track is called the Al Tallah Camel Racecourse. It is completely free to gain access to the track.
This national sport is very spectacular, and the racing is always awe inspiring for the tourists, it is not every day you can see camels galloping at 25 km/hour. These animals are bred in special conditions, and the cost of some of them can exceed $ 1 million. The owners of furry champion-riders get expensive prizes, and the riders are replaced by almost weightless special devices, with the help of which the camels can be controlled remotely. These competitions are often attended by the heads of state.
In winter, Ajman hosts a large camel festival. This usually takes place in February, but the exact date varies from year to year.
Beaches of Ajman
The pride of Ajman is its magnificent wide beaches with white and fine sand like flour. The best of them belong to the hotels built along the coastline. Hotel guests use the beach services for free, but outsiders have to pay to enter. Entrance to the beach at the Kempinski hotel, for example, will cost about 110 dirhams. The beaches are equipped with the nice rattan beds with comfortable mattresses, fixed umbrellas, light canopies with thatched roofs, pavilions, cafes.
Ajman has its own municipal (free) beaches. They are located at the entrance of the city, but separated from the bustle of the city by a dense band of palm trees. Beaches are equipped with worse than those that belong to the hotels, but they are always clean, working lifeguard service. On public beaches often rest local residents, and it is worth knowing that the girls, dressed in Muslim swimwear burkini, to photograph is strictly prohibited – for that you can get a fine or even be expelled from the country.
On certain days of the week at the public beaches of Ajman is only open to women with children under 10 years. You can find out on the spot which days it is restricted to visit the beach.
The Ajman coastline is gentle and sometimes you have to walk a few dozen meters to get to a depth where you can swim. The coastal waters delight with their bright azure color and crystal clarity. They are turbid for a short time during the storm in the bay.
The best time for a beach holiday in Ajman is from October to May, during this time it ranges from +23 to +35 ° C. In summer it is very hot here, the air temperature often exceeds +45 ° C. It rains very rarely.
In Ajman, only three large shopping malls are finally completed and ready to receive visitors, the other commercial complexes are still in various stages of construction. All of them are not as grand as those in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but they are quite capable of captivating the keen shopper. The largest and most popular shopping center in the city is Ajman City Centre. It has large stores and boutiques with a wide range of goods in different price categories but, anyway, shopping in this shopping center is cheaper than in other emirates. Relax after your shopping spree at one of the lovely courtyards and grab a table and eat at any of the surrounding restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets.
Take a stroll through China Mall, a shopping mall that’s architecturally different from classic malls – it’s more like a huge indoor market. There are about a thousand stores, offering anything from clothing, footwear, and jewelry to furniture, building materials, and auto parts, for an inexpensive bargain. The China Mall mostly features goods from China, the Middle East, the CIS and Africa. There are several restaurants and cafes, and on Mondays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. there are costume shows in the national Chinese style.
There is also interesting shopping on the main shopping street of Ajman, named after Sheikh Hamed bin Abdul Aziz. There are stores selling trendy clothes and a market offering traditional Arabic crafts: coffee pots, old-fashioned silver and copper weapons, lapis lazuli and malachite souvenirs, luxurious Persian hand-woven carpets from Iran, original jewelry brought from Oman and Yemen.
Restaurants and cafes
Ajman is famous for its wonderful restaurants and cafes with Middle Eastern, Indian, and Chinese cuisine. Lovers of seafood will be pleased as well. On the average, a solid meal for two in the center and on the seafront of Ajman will cost 80-120 dirhams, but the farther from the central part of the city, the cheaper the food will be.
There are several excellent restaurants in the Kempinski Hotel and the popular Sheesha Hookah Coffee Shop, with its terrace offering a marvellous view of the coastline, is also worth visiting.
Vegetarians should check out the famous India House restaurant and fast food fans will easily find the Sanad Winner Cafeteria chain for hearty burgers, pizzas and sandwiches and succulent, juicy shawarma. Enjoy a hearty breakfast and lunch at the food courts located in Ajman’s shopping malls.
Hotels in Ajman
To date, there are only about three dozen hotels in Ajman. Some of them are located on the coast, others – in the city limits. One of the best hotels, five-star Ajman Kempinski, is located at the entrance to the port. It is cozy and relaxing, the interior is in the traditional Arabian style, and the hotel beach is considered the best on the Ajman coast. The cost of accommodation – from 180 $ / day.
Own beach and a four-star, recently built “Ramada Beach Ajman”. This hotel is popular among tourists for its great cuisine and high level of service. Accommodation here costs from $80.
One of the best three-star hotels, located on the first line is “Ajman Beach Hotel”. This small and cozy hotel has its own swimming pool, garden courtyard with a nice cafe, and, most importantly, a spacious, never crowded beach. The cost of living here from $ 60 per room per night.
Today on the coast of Ajman is being equipped with grandiose resort area of Al Zora. It already welcomes guests from the fashionable hotel The Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah. It is located right on the seashore and surrounded by mangrove trees. You can stay in one of the two 4-storey buildings or in one of the 15 villas. Tourists here expect spacious elegant rooms, a huge swimming pool, fine dining, however, and rest here can not be called a budget: the cost of living in a standard room – from $ 300. The resort has an 18-hole golf club, one of the largest in the country.
How to get there
In Ajman, as yet, does not have its own international airport. Russian tourists are best reached from Dubai or Sharjah airports, which are connected with Russian cities by direct flights (flights and charters). If you are not met by the hotel transport you can take a shuttle bus to Ajman (Dh10-20), but it’s not convenient for travelers with luggage since, firstly, you’ll have to change luggage and, secondly, you’ll have to take a cab from the bus station to the hotel.
It is best to immediately take a cab, which provides a local carrier “Adjman taxi”. The trip from the Sharjah airport to the hotel in Ajman will cost not more than 60 dirhams, from the Dubai airport – about 100 dirhams. If you want to save by 2 or 3 times, find a traveling companion and hire the so-called “group cab” for four passengers with luggage.
Right at the airport you can rent a car, which will make your vacation more diverse and enjoyable, especially since the roads in the UAE are some of the best in the world. Renting a car costs on average 90-110 dirhams a day, the cost of gasoline is 0.8 dirham/litre.
Ajman: The best thing about vacationing in the smallest emirate of the UAE
Ajman, UAE is a colorful town located in the heart of the small emirate. Until recently, it was almost forgotten about, but lately, holidays in this place are becoming more popular.
The city of Ajman is the center of the emirate of the same name, which became part of the UAE in 1971. It is bordered by Umm Al Qaywain to the north and east and Sharjah to the west and south. Its 10-kilometer resort area stretches along the Arabian Gulf, and its business, historic and administrative districts are clustered around the picturesque Khor Ajan.
Ajman is the smallest, quietest and perhaps the most modest of the 7 emirates. Its area is only 259 km², and the population does not exceed 400 thousand people. However, neither the miniature size, nor the title of “the poorest emirate” (this is by Arab standards) did not prevent it from becoming a favorite destination for many European tourists.
The main distinguishing feature of this town is not only its picturesque nature, but also its almost homely atmosphere. In contrast to large metropolitan cities, it is customary here to simply walk around the city. As evening falls, locals take a stroll along Arabian Gulf St. or head to the seafront to enjoy the long-awaited cool and taste the delicious aromatic barbecue. And Ajman is the only emirate where there is no “dry law”. In the store Hole in wall, located near the hotel Ajman Beach, you can easily buy any drink. But it is strictly forbidden to take alcohol outside the city.
At the moment the emirate of Ajman is the only place without its own oil fields. Perhaps that’s why it remains in the shadow of the larger metropolitan areas. But it is known for its unique mineral springs and active shipbuilding. Thanks to these features, the city provides drinking water to all neighboring countries, and its light single-masted dhow boats and Arabian sailing ships, made by ancient technology, are known around the world.
Holidays in Ajman
Ajman combines two very important points. This is a developed tourist infrastructure, including upscale hotels and perfectly equipped resort area, and the old neighborhoods with their traditional Arabic color and the famous oriental hospitality. This is what makes a holiday in Ajman so diverse and exciting. In addition to classic beach activities available to tourists almost all year round, you can go surfing, water-skiing, jet-skiing and scuba diving.
Lovers of unusual leisure advise to look at the famous camel racing, called the national sport. The Al Tallah Camel Racecourse, where these competitions are held, takes place in the desert near Sharjah Airport. The race itself involves several hundred camels, which race at 23 km per hour. The price of some of them reaches $1 million. What is interesting, the riders here are replaced by special devices, providing remote control humpbacked runners. The festival is held in the winter – usually in February.
The main means of transport (both in the city and within the UAE) is Ajman taxi. The approximate price of the service is 80 dirhams or 22 U.S. dollars. If you want you can use the services of a “group cab” or hire a suitable car.
In the emirate of Ajman you can find a huge range of accommodation for all tastes and budgets. The average cost of a holiday for 2 looks something like this:
Among the most popular tourist hotels can safely include:
- “Ajman Kempinski” – the legendary 5* hotel, located at the entrance to the port. It is a beautiful 8-storey building decorated in traditional Muslim style and characterized by the highest level of service; Fairmont Ajman
- “Fairmont Ajman” is a 5* hotel built on the first coastline. It offers guests a large infinity pool as well as a wide range of signature treatments and water sports. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel;
- “Radisson Blu Hotel” is a comfortable 4* hotel located in the heart of the city. The room inventory is 148 apartments, which offer a wonderful panorama of the city or the pool. There is a private beach, a variety of bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as numerous entertainment options;
- “Ewan Grand Resort” is a popular 3* hotel whose main feature is express check-in and check-out. It has its own garden and sunbathing terrace. Some rooms have kitchens with a refrigerator, microwave and oven.
The city of Ajman in the UAE can boast not only a pleasant holiday, but also numerous establishments offering both traditional and European cuisine. Among them we can mention the restaurant “Sheesha”, which offers a wonderful panorama of the sea, “La Croissette Café”, considered the best place for breakfast, and “India House”, the center of vegetarianism. Fast food aficionados should definitely check out Sanad Winner Cafeteria and cocktail lovers should check out Al Masa bar by the mosque.
As for cost:
- Lunch or dinner for two at a mid-range establishment will cost AED 140,
- In a cheap restaurant – 30 AED for one,
- in a fast-food place – 40-50 AED.
The cost of a meal depends not only on the level of the restaurant, but also on its location. So if you want to save money, go to the outskirts of Ajman – the service is not worse, but the prices are minimal.
What to do?
Despite the fact that the photos of Ajman UAE adorn all travel brochures, there is not much to see here. But we managed to find you a couple of the most important sights.
The National History Museum, which was opened in 1981 in the building of an old fort, is the main attraction of the emirate of Ajman. Its numerous halls present unique archaeological, historical and ethnographic expositions.
Among them are collections of jewelry belonging to the first rulers of the Emirate, manuscripts from the past and goods made by ancient craftsmen. There’s also a collection of ancient weapons and its own hall of wax figures in which the life of local residents is reproduced. Mock-ups and exhibits of the museum precisely recreate the atmosphere of bygone years and vividly illustrate the changes that took place over time.
In the courtyard of the complex you can see old fire engines, dhow boats, palm shacks and a windmill tower used as a fan.
- Address: Museum roundabout, Ajman, UAE.
- Opening hours: Sun-Thurs. – 8am to 1pm and 5pm to 8pm; Fri. – From five to eight in the evening.
- Cost of visit: adult ticket – 4 AED, children and students – 2 AED.
The square watchtower is not only the most beautiful but also the Emirate’s oldest attraction. Having undergone many different trials in its lifetime, it was able not only to withstand the unequal battle against time, but even to preserve its original appearance. The tower is located on the shore of the Persian Gulf so it is a recreation area that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.
Address: Al Murabbaa Watchtower, Ajman, UAE.
The snow-white mosque, decorated with 4 exquisite minarets and a rich dome, was built in honor of Zayed Sultan Bin Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE and the first ruler of the country. The structure is distinguished by its strict outline and unusual decorations made of carved stone of delicate beige hue. It looks very beautiful!
Location: Corner of Al Ittihad Street and University st., Ajman, UAE.
The residence of the Emir of Ajman will appeal to lovers of unusual modern architecture. It is best admired late in the evening when the residence is illuminated by numerous lamps and lanterns.
Looking through the photos of Ajman, you will surely notice the fish market, located 2 km from the beach line. In this bustling exotic corner you can not only buy but also taste numerous sea creatures – crabs, shrimps, eels, rays and even sharks. Yes, you can cook them on the spot if you wish! Life is brisk here from early morning until sunset. Another reason to visit the famous Ajman fish market is the unique opportunity to meet the locals and bargain with the smart traders. Apart from fish, fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat, and freshly squeezed coconut and sugar cane juices are all sold here.
Only dirhams are accepted in the market and only cash. Dollars are very rarely accepted and the exchange rate is very unprofitable, so don’t forget to bring your local currency.
- Address: Rashideya 1, Ajman, UAE.
- Opening hours: 7.00 – 22.00 daily.
Other popular attractions in Ajman include the Opera House, City Park, Mineral Springs, the Exhibition Centre and the Bingo Club.
The main pride of the emirate is its beaches – long, wide, with the finest white sand and crystal clear azure waves. The best of them are at the disposal of hotels built along the shoreline, so outsiders have to pay an entrance fee. These areas are equipped with fixed umbrellas, rattan sun loungers, soft mattresses, gazebos, light canopies and cozy cafes.
Most city (municipal) beaches are located at the exit of the city. They are separated from the city highway by dense stands of palm trees. They are not as well equipped, but they are clean and have lifeguards. On the municipal beaches rest not only tourists, but also local residents, so visitors should carefully monitor their behavior. For example, an attempt to take a picture of a girl dressed in a Muslim bathing suit on the camera can not just be fined, but also expelled from the country. In general, be careful with the photos in Ajman – not everyone likes it.
It’s also worth noting that on some days only women and children under 10 years old can enter the municipal recreation areas. A more exact schedule can be clarified directly on the spot.
Climate and weather
In Ajman it is always warm, sunny and very dry. During the summer, the air heats up to +40 ° C, the water – up to +32 ° C. The resort season opens in September and lasts until the end of May. At this time it is comfortable, no sweltering heat – the air temperature ranges from +23 to +30 ° C. It rains very rarely – in winter and in early spring.
How do I get to Ajman?
This emirate does not have its own airport. Most domestic tourists come here from neighboring Sharjah or Dubai, connected to most Russian cities by direct air links. The Ajman is just over 25km from Dubai, and Sharjah is even closer, with a direct flight connection of just 17km. There are several transfers from the airport to the city center.
Guests are met at the airport and taken to the hotel – very quick and convenient.
Regular buses go only to the bus station. To get to the hotel you have to take a different means of transportation (usually a cab). For the trip you have to pay 10-20 AED.
Adjman taxi stands are located near the terminals. It is better to find out the fare in advance – before you get in the car. The trip from Dubai to Ajman will cost 100 AED, from Sharjah – 60-65. To save money, find fellow passengers and take a “group or private cab” which seats 4 with luggage.
The exit to the subway stations is located at terminals 1 and 2. From there you need to go to the station “Union” and take a bus every 30 minutes. The last flight is at 22.00. The cost of such a trip will cost 15 AED.
Each airport has a car rental service. The cost of this service ranges from 90 to 110 AED/day. Gasoline is inexpensive here – AED 2/liter.
All prices on the page are for July 2018.
As you can see, Ajman in the UAE is a haven for those who are tired of the busy pace of life and want to enjoy the silence, the measured rustle of palm trees and a pleasant seaside holiday.
Author: Olga Musienko
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