Abu Dhabi: In a significant cultural milestone, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has inaugurated the Sir Bani Yas Island Visitor Centre. The new centre is set to become a pivotal cultural resource, providing both local and international tourists with an immersive experience into the historical essence of Sir Bani Yas Island.
Nestled in a landscape rich with history, the visitor centre boasts interactive displays that allow guests to delve deeper into the island’s past, following a visit to the church and monastery site.
The centre also features a curated collection of artifacts from various eras found on the island, each complemented by an interactive tablet offering detailed insights.
This development follows DCT Abu Dhabi’s diligent conservation efforts, which saw the reopening of the Sir Bani Yas Church and Monastery site in 2019.
Enhanced with visitor-friendly facilities and informative panels, the site now, with the addition of the visitor centre, offers a comprehensive narrative of the island’s natural and cultural history.
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, expressed the department’s dedication to preserving the UAE’s cultural heritage. “The Sir Bani Yas Visitor Centre is a testament to our commitment. It allows residents and international visitors to explore the island’s diverse history and connects them with the vision of our Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed,” he said.
In addition to its ancient church and monastery, Sir Bani Yas Island also houses archaeological sites dating back to the Neolithic period, underlining its importance as a natural resource and a haven for fishermen and seafarers over 8,000 years.
The Dilmun Merchant’s site from around 1800 BCE and the courtyard houses from the 7th to 8th century showcase the island’s significance in regional trade and settlement patterns during different historical periods.
The island’s mention in the 16th century by Italian merchant Gasparo Balbi, as a winter home for the ‘Banu Yas’ people, further highlights its historical importance.
Under Sheikh Zayed’s visionary leadership, the island transformed into a nature reserve and a sanctuary for endangered species. His contributions, marked as Modern Heritage sites, are preserved by DCT Abu Dhabi and featured prominently in the Visitor Centre. These elements offer a unique glimpse into the late Founding Father’s connection with Sir Bani Yas.
Entry: When to visit
Open to the public, the Sir Bani Yas Visitor Centre operates from 10 am to 6 pm Saturdays to Thursdays, and from 2 pm to 6 pm on Fridays.
Entry is complimentary, inviting everyone to explore and appreciate the rich tapestry of culture and history that Sir Bani Yas Island proudly embodies.