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Welcome to Historical Timeline


The salt that forms much of the dome of Sir Bani Yas Island began to form. Later, volcanic limestones and sandstones were deposited on top.

Oligocene and Early Miocene periods 20 to 15 million years ago

The salt dome of Sir Bani Yas Island emerges to the surface, carrying 6km of geological composition, which is the oldest exposed anywhere in the UAE today.

Old Stone Age (200,000 years ago)

Archeological finds in the form of flint tools have been found west of Jebel Dhanna, the first evidence of human settlement in the region.

Iron Age (1200 BC to 300 BC)

Evidence of human occupation on Sir Bani Yas Island during this period has yet to be identified.

Late pre-Islamic period (300 BC to 600 AD)

Major settlements on nearby islands such as Dalma were actively engaged in international maritime trade, with Mesopotamia and even as far as the Mediterranean.

Late Miocene period (6 to 8 million years ago)

Fossils of elephants and other large animals at Jebel Dhanna opposite Sir Bani Yas indicate their presence on the island.

Neolithic (Late Stone Age) and Bronze Age (5,500 BC to 1,200 BC)

The earliest evidence of human activity on Sir Bani Yas Island dates to around 5,500 BC.  From around 2,000 BC, pottery and a large tomb were found, suggesting use of the island by seafarers in the Bronze Age.

Late 6th Century to mid 8th Century

Remains of early Christian Nestorian monastery from this era, the largest Christian site in Eastern Arabia, have been found on the Eastern side of Sir Bani Yas Island.

Islamic Period (630 AD)

Islam became the dominant religion in the region.  Fine fragments of Chinese celadon and porcelain dating back to the 14th and 15th Century AD, link the fishermen on the island to old maritime trading routes.

1600s to 1900s

The pearling industry booms in the 19th Century, while salt mines on Sir Bani Yas Island also attract visitors from neighbouring islands and the mainland.  The pearl industry declined in the 1930s and 1940s and the villages on the island are abandoned, leaving a single palm grove.


Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan created a law prohibiting hunting and began his ‘Greening of the Desert’ initiative.  He also began to create a wildlife sanctuary on Sir Bani Yas and introduced the first island breeding programmes.  Four Arabian oryx were introduced to the island as a conservation effort which now have grown to 450.


An eight kilometre  radius no-fishing zone was marked around Sir Bani Yas Island, extending the efforts of the sanctuary to the surrounding marine life.


Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan becomes ruler of Abu Dhabi, and later first president of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, and chooses Sir Bani Yas as an island retreat.


Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara was originally built as the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s guesthouse which was later converted into a resort. In October 2008, the Desert Islands Resorts & Spa by Anantara opened its doors to the public as the first hotel on Sir Bani Yas Island, accommodating over 17,000 guests in its first year.


The first free-roaming cheetah cubs were born in the Arabian Wildlife Park.  The island team plants one mangrove seedling per guest to the island.  The park underwent an upgrade programme and December saw the formal unveiling of the remains of a 7th century Christian monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island.


Half of the 87 square-kilometre island was developed into a large Arabian Wildlife Park, dedicated to housing free-roaming wild animals. The first free-roaming Striped Hyena cubs were born in the park in late 2009.


Sir Bani Yas Island sent 14 Oryx to be released into the Liwa Desert, in December to help increase numbers in the wild.


March saw the launch of Sir Bani Yas Stables and the Desert Islands Conference Centre.  Amwaj Restaurant was unveiled in December.

Mid 2013

The Water Sports Centre was open to the public in March and June marked the grand opening of Anantara Al Yamm Villa Resort.


Late 2013

Anantara Al Sahel Villa Resort, nestled within the Arabian Wildlife Park is inaugurated. The 30 private villas harmoniously coexist with over 10,000 free-roaming animals.