600 AD monastery opens

Developed by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), Desert Islands, the region’s premier nature-based tourism destination has announced the opening of the UAE’s only discovered Christian monastery to the public on Sir Bani 
Yas Island.

By (Wam)

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Published: Mon 13 Dec 2010, 12:29 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 11:19 AM

The pre-Islamic monastery, which is believed to have been built around 600 AD, was initially discovered on the 87-square kilometre island in 1992. Now, almost two decades since its discovery tourists can visit the site and experience another piece of the rich tapestry that makes up the UAE’s fascinating history. A new phase of work is currently under way by archaeologists, and treasures are still being unearthed, making the site a significant focal point for history enthusiasts worldwide.

“We are delighted to be opening this ancient site to the public, which gives visitors an insight into the rich history of Sir Bani Yas Island and the UAE,” said Shaikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman of TDIC.

“We are proud of our heritage and are therefore focused on creating a multi-experience tourism destination where guests are able to enjoy a variety of activities, while protecting and preserving the history and culture of our country, as well as the natural environment of the island.”

The team of archaeologists excavating the site, which is believed to have been built by the Church of the East, is led by Archaeological Director Dr Joseph Elders.

Sir Bani Yas Island has been inhabited for over 7,500 years, and more than 36 archaeological sites have been found on the island since surveys and excavations began. These include a circular tomb thought to be 4,000 years old, a fortified watchtower, a mosque and evidence of the ancient pearling industry. In the future it is hoped that these sites will be opened to the public. —

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