H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region, has visited the site of Sir Bani Yas Church and Monastery, the first early Christian landmark to be discovered in the UAE.
After completing work on conservation of the site, the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi recently re-opened it to tourist groups and other visitors.
Sheikh Hamdan toured the site and was briefed about its historical importance, as well as its archaeological features and available facilities and services. He then viewed the sections of the church and monastery, which dates back to between 600-750 AD.
The site was first discovered in 1992, and excavations over the next two years revealed its eastern and northern dormitories, its protective wall, and houses. The discovery of a fragment of plaster with a well-defined cross in 1995 confirmed the Christian nature of the site.
At the end of his visit, Sheikh Hamdan said that Sir Bani Yas Island has many ancient landmarks, geological features and man-made attractions, which have made it a leading tourism destinations in Al Dhafra Region.
He added that the monastery and church are symbols of the UAE’s cultural diversity, and were considered of great significance by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Due to its historical importance, visits to the site have been carefully controlled since the end of the main archaeological excavations and a viewing platform for visitors has been built.