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The forts and towers of al ‘ayn
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The forts and towers of al ‘ayn


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  • 1. THE FORTS AND TOWERS OF AL ‘AYN BY: Fairuz (BARC/8008/10)
  • 2. 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.
  • 3. 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.
  • 4. 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.
  • 5. 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.
  • 6. 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)
  • 7. Burj al Murabba‘ah :: Front elevation of the south-side EXTERIOR INTERIOR
  • 8. 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
  • 9. 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
  • 10. Qal‘at al Murayjib :The square tower Al Murayjib Fort: rear north-west wall, surrounded by
  • 11. Qal‘at al Murayjib : Al Murayjib Fort: front elevation Ground Floor First Floor Circular Tower
  • 12. 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
  • 13. Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Front and Back Elevation
  • 14. Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Ground Floor Plan
  • 15. 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
  • 16. Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t :Qal‘at al Muwayji‘t : Ground, First and Second-floor plans of Block No. 3
  • 17. 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.
  • 18. 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
  • 19. HuSn al Shaykh Sul†ån : Ground Floor Plan
  • 20. THE END