THE FORTS AND TOWERS OF AL ‘AYN BY: Fairuz (BARC/8008/10)
INTRODUCTION: The city of al ‘Ayn, an oasis located in the south- east of the United Arab Emirates near al Buraymi, iswell known for its historic forts. The forts were built for a number of purposes, the most important of which was to protect the tribes and their allies and territories The forts were used for administrative purposes, as well as for housing the Ruler. In Al‘Ayn, every important family had its own fort, where people used to gather every day to discuss their day-to-day socio-political life.
Material & Location: Are mainly built from local materials:stones, local gypsum (juss) and clay (†in). These materials can withstand greater temperatures and are more durable than cement and concrete. Al ‘Ayn forts were built on sites where water supplies were plentiful, while towers were mainly constructed on hills, for defensive reasons. Inside the fort, one or more wells or a falaj (a system for channelling water) would be constructed.
Typical Fort : Most of al ‘Ayn’s forts were square in shape, with external walls approximately 4.6 metres high and one or more towers situated at the corner of each wall. A small mosque would sometimes be located near the tower. The fort would generally have two storeys, the lower generally larger than the upper. The ceilings would be constructed from mats made of date palm fronds and tree stumps. Date palms provided a cheap, readily available building material that was climatically effective in reducing the heat inside the fort. The main gate, located on the front wall, would be made from timber imported from India or East Africa. Generally the forts were constructed from inexpensive materials and were simply designed, with no arches,columns or embellishment. Al ‘Ayn is the only region in the UAE where two types of forts can be found, those of the ruling familyof Al Nahyan and those of local tribes.
Qal‘at Mazyad : A rectangular building with a massive sur and two gateways. The fort has three circular towers which occupy three of the corners, with the fourth corner occupied by a square tower. The fort is on two floors with a large square.
Burj al Murabba‘ah : The building of this tower was ordered by Shaykh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1948 Rectangular in form (16.1 x 10m) and it is built with a ground floor with two upper storeys. The tower has one main entrance, facing south, leading to the internal hall of the burj and the main staircase. There are four rooms on the ground floor, the largest being the west-facing room, and three smaller square ones, one adjacent to the staircase and two running across the eastern wall, used for storing arms and ammunition. On the first floor there are four rooms that were used for living and surveillance. All the rooms have openings in all directions. The third floor’s three large rooms were set aside for living. The tower is traditionally constructed out of mud brick with ceilings made of palm frond mats. An enclosing wall, sur, surrounds the tower’s large grounds (104 x 74 metres)
Burj al Murabba‘ah :: Front elevation of the south-side EXTERIOR INTERIOR
Burj al Murabba‘ah : Ground Floor First Floor Detail of the multifoil arch at the street entrance, showing the traditional vestibule ceiling construction of date palm trunks and woven palm- Second Floor Roof Plan frond
Qal‘at al Murayjib : Named after the locality, it is considered to be one of the oldest Al Nahyan forts in al ‘Ayn, The fort is on two floors, with six rooms for daily use and living on the ground floor and three entrances to the south and south-east. The first floor has one room only situated in the western corner flanked by two terraces extending east and south. A third level accommodates a roof terrace above the second floor western room. The fort has two towers that stand separate from the structure. An adjacent tower, 26 meters to the east, is circular with three floors and was used as a watch tower. The second tower, situated at a distance of 130 meters to the west of the fort, is rectangular (8.4 x 7.4 meters). Constructed on three floors it contains a number of rooms that were used by the guards and domestics
Qal‘at al Murayjib :The square tower Al Murayjib Fort: rear north-west wall, surrounded by
Qal‘at al Murayjib : Al Murayjib Fort: front elevation Ground Floor First Floor Circular Tower
Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Al Muwayji‘i is one of the largest and lushes areas of al ‘Ayn, famous for its palm orchards, fertile land and pure breeze. The favorable location was selected by Shaykh Zayed Bin Sultan for constructing his residence and the fort in 1946, The fort is a walled compound of approximately 60 x 60 metres with two protruding blocks on the southeast and north-west corners. The north-east corner is contained within the fort sur. The surrounding sur rises to 5 metres in height with the main entrance gate in the southern facade. The main building was used for living, and situated on the north-west corner of the compound. It had a total of eight rooms, some for storage, and an open roof terrace on the third floor. The block on the north-east was for the use of the domestic staff and has two floors. The third block, east of the entrance, was used by the guards and as an
Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Front and Back Elevation
Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Ground Floor Plan
Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Ground- and first-floor plans of Block No. 1 Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Ground- and first-floor plans of Block No. 2
Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t :Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Ground, First and Second-floor plans of Block No. 3
HuSn al Shaykh Sul†ån : Also known as the Eastern Husn, al Ousn al Sharqi, It is located in the centre of al ‘Ayn and was built by Shaykh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan around 1910. The Husn has three towers attached to the surrounding wall, on the east, west and south-east corners. The dimensions of this nearly square fort are 41.45 metres on the main south facade of the building and 40.7 metres on the north elevation. The western wall, up to the tower, runs to 31.8 metres. A series of three reception majlistype rooms run parallel to the southern wall and open on to the main entrance gate. Another set runs along the eastern wall of the fort, and were probably allocated for private use. A large square takes up the complete enclosed space on the interior of the enclosing walls. Since 1971 the renovated fort has been attached to al ‘Ayn Museum.
HuSn al Shaykh Sul†ån : The south-facing wall with the main entrance Circular Towerview of the rear north-facing elevationand towers, currently used as al ‘Ayn Main entrance