The Arabian Wildlife Park in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Picture: davispaul/Instagram

This island is no ordinary island, as it has a rich history behind not only its name but also history on its original inhabitants.

Sir Bani Yas Island is an island that is part of United Arab Emirates after the late UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, discovered it and led an excavation of the remains of a pre-Islamic monastery, which dates back to 600AD.


However, there is so much of the story behind the island of Sir Bani Yas.

7500 years ago, this island was home to a tribe that was indigenous to the United Emirates - the Bani Yas tribe - one of the first major tribes in the Arabian Peninsula.

Mentions of the island after the Bani Yas tribe left their home came in the late 16th century, when Venetian jeweller Gasparo Balbi listed “Sirbeniast” as an island around which pearls were often found.

Fast-forward to the 20th and 21st centuries, where more excavations took place, uncovering 36 archaeological sites with notable finds such as a circular tomb thought to be 4,000 years old, a solid watchtower and a mosque along with remnant signs of an ancient pearling trade hub.

Preserving wildlife

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan went a step further to turn the island into a Nature Reserve and sanctuary for endangered animals from the UAE, Africa and beyond.

Nowadays, the island is not only a home to endangered and at-risk of endangered animals but also for guests who desire to view the animals in their own capacity.

Sir Bani Yas island is now home to luxury resorts and a savanna-like reserve for 16,000 animals and 2.5 hand-planted trees, with scenery that would confuse guests for a savannah in Kenya or South Africa.

The above Instagram picture is taken in the Arabian Wildlife Park, where guests are taken on a 90-minute game drive, where species like the cheetah, giraffe, Arabian mountain buck, axis deer, and urial sheep can be spotted.

Where to stay

Accommodation at on the island is shared by Anantara, which have three villas: Al-Yamm, Al-Sahel and Desert Resort. Al Yamm offers 30 villas with patios facing white-sand beaches.

Al Sahel also has 30 more villas, set in the middle of the savanna, while Desert Islands is a bigger resort, set up at Sheikh Zayed’s former vacation home on the north shore.

The island was recently awarded the ‘World’s Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination’ at the 2014 World Travel Awards in Anguilla for its continued efforts in preserving the natural habitat for the fauna.