Named after the Bani Yas tribe, one of the oldest and largest tribes in the Arabian Peninsula, Sir Bani Yas Island has a long history of human settlement. In fact the very first humans are believed to have arrived on the island around 7,500 years ago even before people inhabited the region which is now recognised as the United Arab Emirates.
The island was first mentioned in European literature around the late 16th century, when it was noted as an island rich with pearls. It was also described in some detail during the 1820s and 1850s by British naval officers who were surveying the Gulf waters.
Over the last few decades since the first surveys and excavations began, 36 archaeological sites have been discovered on Sir Bani Yas, each providing a separate insight into the island's rich history. These include a circular tomb thought to be 4,000 years old, a fortified watchtower a mosque and signs of an ancient pearling industry.
One of the oldest sites was excavated between 1993 and 1996 under the patronage of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding President of the United Arab Emirates, and has revealed the remains of a pre-Islamic monastery, which dates back to 600AD. The Christian monastery and church on Sir Bani Yas, are believed to have been settled by a community of monks and are thought to be the only previous permanent settlement and the only pre-Islamic Christian site ever established on the island.
This site has been carefully excavated by an expert team of archaeologists, and is now open for viewing. Furthermore, a new phase of work is underway and new treasures are still being unearthed, making the site a focal point for archaeological enthusiasts from all over the world.
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Sir Bani Yas Island