UAE’s oldest Christian site reopens on Sir Bani Yas Island

Following extensive conservation efforts, the Church and Monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island has reopened to visitors.

christian church sir bani yas island

The first Christian site discovered in the UAE dates to the 7th and 8th centuries CE and has undergone several excavations since the first building was discovered in 1992.

Now, never-before-seen sections of the Monastery are visible to the public, giving an insight into daily life in the monastery.

christian church sir bani yas island

Later stages of the excavation project, which has been ongoing for several years, unveiled walls and courtyard houses that provided an outline for the site while artefacts such as plaster crosses and ceramic objects proved the existence of the church and the inhabitants’ way of life.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, HE Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, cabinet member and minister of tolerance, said: “The Sir Bani Yas Church and Monastery sheds light on our cultural history, one that we can be proud of; its existence is proof of the longstanding values of tolerance and acceptance in our lands.

“This further emphasises the importance of cross-cultural dialogue and collaboration, as the site provides evidence of the UAE’s openness to other cultures.”

Due to the significance of the site, conservation has always been a top priority for the Department of Culture & Tourism – Abu Dhabi. Last year, a new sheltering solution was put in place to protect the site and its archaeological remains from environmental threats, minimise physical impact on the remains and offer a better experience for visitors.

christian church sir bani yas island

The nature-based Sir Bani Yas Island is located in Al Dhafra in the Western Region, and comprises the Arabian Wildlife Park, salt dome hills, wildlife and adventure activities including safari drives, watersports, mountain biking and horse riding. The island is accessible by ferry and visitors must have a reservation at one of the island’s three Anantara resorts.

Interested in learning more about Abu Dhabi’s cultural history and archaeological projects? Discover what’s been unearthed over the years here.

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