A few days ago I went to an oasis. A real oasis in the desert. It smelled beautiful and was 20 degrees F cooler than outside it. A Dutch woman entered at the same moment as we did but after fifty steps she said, “Well, it looks like it’s going to be just palm trees” and left. Who walks into an oasis and leaves after five mins. saying oh, just palm trees? We walked through it for an hour. It was that big. The sight of hundreds and hundreds of palm trees extending mistily into the distance on all sides is unimaginably restful. Then the oasis ended and it was a dusty desert parking lot and indifferent people. Cue Verdi Prati and cry a little.
This was Al Ain. An oasis just where you want it to be if you are trying to cross this point of the Arabian peninsula. It’s been used for centuries. In fact there are some structures around here that are 4500 years old. Like this one, believed to be a tomb, which is pretty much my Flintstones fantasy of a stone age monument.
It even has figurative decoration, and it is just what you would want decoration from this period to look like. Two humans and two ibexes in a huddle.