Al Ain: Holidaymakers in the UAE and from the Gulf states thronged tourist spots across the country during the Eid Al Fitr holiday.
Long queues of cars forced traffic police to close Jebel Hafeet Road repeatedly and restrict entry to the Green Mubazzara, a tourist hot spot in the foothills, only letting families through. Traffic crawled, especially in the afternoons when passengers were stuck in their vehicles for hours.
Young people without families were diverted and many of them could not reach the top due to traffic jams.
"It's a Dante's task to make it up to the peak," said Geoffrey Thomas, an expatriate who was visiting from Dubai. "Cars were crawling up and down."
Construction work at the top has occupied a big portion of the parking area and police stop vehicles from moving in once the car park is full, which causes the traffic jam, he said.
Many of the people were enjoying barbecues and dance parties along the zig-zaging Jebel Hafeet Road.
"It's amazing, I haven't seen such a crowded picnic place anywhere," he said. Thomas saw many motorists turning back in desperation very close to the mountain peak.
Carrie Thomas, Geoffrey's wife, said Green Mubazzara was also packed and they could only enter the park after a long wait.
Jebel Hafeet, one of the two highest mountains in the UAE, and the Green Mubazzara are major tourist attractions, particularly during Eid.
All roads leading towards these places were busy. Green Mubazzara, which is a lush green valley in the barren foothills, has many amenities such as hot water springs, swimming pools, barbecue facilities, food and provision outlets. There is a lake with boating available and a beautiful landscape with a number of waterfalls.
Al Ain Municipality arranged an Eid Festival at the Green Mubazzara that started on the first day of Eid.
The city's roads were also packed with cars mainly coming from cities such as Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, and Ras Al Khaimah.
Al Ain's town centre was deserted as most of the shopping centres and markets were closed until Wednesday.
The city has more than 70 parks that were also full to capacity.
Majeed Amjad, a Pakistani expatriate from Sharjah, said this was his first visit to Al Ain and he was amazed at the development and the greenery. He said the city has lots of tourist attractions but the weather is hot and dry.
Abundance of greenery
He said the city needs more tourist events to keep visitors coming all year long.
It was, he said, a good experience to visit Al Ain with the family. "I am, however, not impressed with the Eid festival. It was just an ordinary event that it could have been made more attractive," he said.
Abdullah Al Shamsi, an Omani, said his family had an enjoyable time at Al Ain Zoo and Hili Fun City that had some special Eid programmes.
"Al Ain comes first in the mind whenever we think of outdoor family fun," said Al Shamsi who lives in Buraimi, a neighbouring Omani town.