Located in Abu Dhabi's Al Gharbia municipality, Sir Bani Yas Island, the largest natural island in the United Arab Emirates is an ideal eco-tourism and archaeological destination. (It is not to be confused with Yas Island, the location of Ferrari World and the Yas Marina F1 Circuit.)
In 1971, a wildlife reserve was established on the island. Today, 10,000 animals (including gazelles, giraffes, and Arabian Oryx) roam freely in the Arabian Wildlife Park that occupies half of the island. Visitors can explore it in 4 x 4 Jeeps or on horseback.
Historically, the island was home to a Pre-Islamic Christian monastery during the 7th and 8th centuries AD. The ruins were uncovered during excavations in the 1990s. Excavations have also revealed the remnants of a stone-age civilization. In fact, there are 35 archaeological sites on the island. Plans to establish a heritage trail with an interpretive center are under discussion.
Activities available include horse riding, diving, cycling, and kayaking.
Transfers are provided between the 3 luxury resorts on the island:
- Anantara Al Yamm Villa Resort, a beachfront resort with 30 luxury villas
- Anantara Al Sahel Lodge, a secluded oasis with 30 villas and a saltwater mangrove lagoon
- Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, a 64-room resort and the location of the Sir Bani Yas Stables.
The Desert Islands Conference Center has facilities for 550 guests in the Dhabi Ballroom, which can be sub-divided into 3 separate venues that can each accommodate 130 meeting participants. There are also 8 meeting rooms with a total capacity of 85 and a private boardroom.
For more information about Abu Dhabi area attractions and venues, also read Incentive Travel: Amazing Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island Takes Shape in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saadiyat Island Beach Resorts, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and 5 Futuristic Event Venues Around the World.
Photo Credits: Visit Abu Dhabi, Anantara Resorts