Sir Bani Yas Island’s name originates from the Bani Yas tribe who first inhabited Abu Dhabi. The Island was created millions of years ago when natural geological forces created the “salt dome” island that is present today. The first human settlers arrived several thousand years ago, long before people set foot on what was later to become the United Arab Emirates.
Forty-two phenomenal archaeological sites have been discovered throughout Sir Bani Yas Island, each providing a distinct insight into the island’s history. One of the oldest sites is the remains of a Nestorian Christian monastery, which dates back to 600 AD.
In 1971, the Island was established as a nature reserve by the late ruler and founder of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He started his incredible visionary ‘Greening of the Desert’ programme on Sir Bani Yas. It was designed to make the UAE’s deserts more habitable for human settlement and provide a sanctuary for Arabia’s endangered wildlife.
Over the last two decades, the Island has been transformed into the vibrant wildlife sanctuary it is today. Under Sheikh Zayed’s patronage, several million trees were planted and countless animal species were introduced to the Island including the Giraffe, Cheetah, Hyena, Oryx and Ostrich. He recognised the need to preserve animals that were at risk from extinction, particularly within the UAE and Arabian Peninsula, and his vision has led to the establishment of the Arabian Wildlife Park; which at 4,100 hectares covers just over half of the Island to assist with breeding and rehabilitation, and an environment for thousands of animals to roam freely around a large area.
TDIC continues to build on the great legacy left by Sheikh Zayed through continued conservation work and ecological investment, as well as developing Sir Bani Yas into a destination that welcomes travellers of all ages. We look forward to welcoming you soon, and guiding you into discovering more about Sir Bani Yas Island’s rich heritage.