Clay fortresses in the UAE as an example of environmentally friendly architecture
Clay structures in the UAE remain a true symbol of architectural aesthetics in the region. Given this status and the importance of castles, fortresses and other structures built of clay, the state makes efforts to preserve their original appearance, especially since with the advent of new construction technologies, all clay houses quickly emptied. 

In this respect, from all the United Arab Emirates it is possible to single out the city of Al-Ain, which actively restores and restores this kind of architectural heritage. By the way, the increased attention of the world community to Al-Ain was attracted by the fact that the clay structures of this city were recognized as a model of ecologically clean architecture.

Al-Jahili Fortress, which is considered one of the largest historical fortresses built in the traditional way from clay soil in the city of Al Ain, recently received the international TERRA Award as the best modern clay facility. The winner was announced within the framework of the 12th International Clay Building Conference, which was held on July 14, 2016, and was dedicated to environmentally friendly construction.

Al-Jahili fortress

Castles and fortresses in the city of Al Ain can be called the most important monuments of the history of the region. They witnessed many important events in the history of the country and, since the seventeenth century, brought this memory to our times. These historical buildings had a different form and purpose. Some were built in the form of powerful castles, others - in the form of fortresses and defensive fortifications with towers and houses. Each building bears the seal of the development of the emirate's architectural thought and style.

TERRA Award is the first prize specializing in the field of modern clay construction. It was established by the UNESCO research laboratory in 2013.

Al-Jahili Fortress won first place among three finalists nominated in the category "Interior Architecture by Environmental Standards", surpassing its competitors with a special creative approach with which the builders and the Department of Tourism and Culture of Abu Dhabi approached the restoration of the fortress in 2006. Today, the fortress of Al-Jahili is not only a historical monument and an object of cultural heritage, but also a local attraction attracting tourists from all over the world to the city of Al Ain.

There is a fortress of al-Jahili in the southeast of Al-Ain town near the Sheikh Zayd Palace-Museum and is considered one of the largest structures of its kind in the city. Local residents call the fortress an example of local military architecture. Perhaps such a high status fortress al-Jahili received due to its strategically advantageous location, because it is located on fertile soil in close proximity to water sources.


During its history, the fortress was used for a variety of purposes, including as a military fortification that provides security against external threats. However, despite all sorts of different purposes, al-Jahili always remained an extremely important object in this region.


Fortress - the "eyes of history"
Due to its historical, and later cultural and architectural significance, the fortress was transferred to the Department of Cultural Monuments and Museums in Al Ain, which in the eighties of the last century was engaged in the restoration and restoration of its original form. Another stage of the restoration of the fortress was held in 2007-2008 under the leadership of the Abu Dhabi Department for Tourism and Culture.

The main part of the fortress of Al-Jahili consists of two buildings with a total area of ​​about 1300 square meters, walls whose height reaches 6.5 meters, and a separate round tower located at a distance of 50 meters to the north-west of the fortress itself. In turn, the tower consists of four floors with a joint center. The architectural style of the tower is similar to those found in one of the districts of Al Ain and refer to the Bronze Age.

In the corners of the fortress there are also three small towers. In the northeast corner of the fortress there is a two-story building intended for guests reception. Due to its historical and architectural significance, the fortress was nominated by the Chicago Museum and the European Center for Architecture, Art and Urban Studies for the International Architectural Award among the best contemporary architectural achievements in 2010.

Today, the fortress of al-Jahili serves as a local attraction, which is visited daily by tourists from around the world. For this, the fortress was equipped with an information center for visitors, shops and cafes. Also here you can find special rooms for cultural events, where, by the way, the exhibition of the British traveler and researcher Wilfrid Teissider, who visited here in the forties of the last century, is systematically held.

The Al-Jahili Fortress is one of the oldest historical monuments in the United Arab Emirates. It was built in 1891 to ensure security and stability in the eastern region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the defense of the eastern border of the country. Therefore, from the mid-fifties of the last century and until the establishment of the state of the UAE in 1971, the fortress served as a place for the deployment of the armed forces. After that, it was restored several times, before the official opening of the al-Jahili fortress as a national museum took place in 2008. The "


Clay architecture, which characterizes the city of Al Ain and is the most popular type of construction throughout the history of the region, first appeared in the civilizations of the East. This is evidenced by the results of excavation, as well as literary and historical works. Historical sources claim that clay along with other auxiliary resources, including stone, wood, straw, papyrus and palm leaves, was the first building material.

Sample of environmentally friendly architecture
According to the researchers, something spiritual connects a person with such material as clay, which is the main component of its creation. It was this that contributed to the further use of this material as a key component of the construction. Because clay is in harmony with man and the environment, this material has retained its primary role in construction and architecture for centuries. And today, the castles and fortresses of Al Ain remain one of the main symbols of the era of the heyday of clay construction in the UAE.

Al Ain town itself for a long time was the center of research in the history of clay buildings and the history of human interaction with this kind of architecture. Through joint work, the United Nations published statistics that say that one third of the world's population still lives in houses built of clay or material, the main component of which is clay.

It is worth noting that the high density of castles and fortresses in the city of Al Ain is due to its location and strategic title of the "eastern gate" for the emirate of Abu Dhabi. This area is a line of defense that protects against external ambitions. There is also another fortress in Al Ain. It is called Al-Murayjab. This defensive structure is considered one of the oldest in the region and is a fortress with two separate towers, one of which has an oval shape and is designed for observation and defensive operations, and the second is a square one - designed for accommodation and residence of soldiers.

Fortress Mazid is considered to be one of the largest in the city of Al Ain. It has a rectangular shape with high walls along the perimeter. The walls are equipped with loopholes. In the corners of the fortress are three oval towers and one rectangular. The fortress can be accessed through two gates, some of which are considered combat. They stand out from the general view of the fortress and are equipped with loopholes.

As for the fortress of Al-Rumeila, it is equipped with high walls, each side of which consists of nine upper frightening teeth. It is noteworthy that these are the only such kind of walls in the region.

The fortresses were built in various places for several reasons, including because of the villages scattered at a distance from each other, of which Al Ain is composed. Another reason is the strategic location of the city on the eastern approaches to Abu Dhabi and next to the Buraimi oasis. That is why, this region has long attracted the attention of not always benevolent neighbors. Thus, in 1907, the eastern fortress or fortress of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed was erected, which later became the first museum in the city of Al Ain. It is a defensive structure of a square shape, the length of which is 30 meters. The fortress can be accessed through one gate, which is in the south and has a convex shape.

On the territory of the fortress there is a well with water and a large number of rooms. The fortress is equipped with three rectangular towers communicating with each other. Before the construction there are two guns mounted on wooden wheels. Another cannon is inside the fortress.

Al-Muwayjee Palace, built in 1946, is another unique architectural monument. The palace is built in the form of a square, the side of which reaches 60 meters. The height of the walls is about 5 meters. On the territory of the palace there are two buildings: the first - in the north-west corner - is considered the main building and consists of three floors, and the second is located in the south-western corner. Both buildings are equipped for accommodation and living and are protected by a square three-story tower.

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