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Sir Bani Yas Island, United Arab Emirates

Founded in 1971 by the founding President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan, this ambitious visionary project is located on a natural island that has been occupied for centuries. There are over 40 archaeological sites on the island. One of the oldest is a Nestorian Christian monastery dating from 600 AD. Today Sir Bani Yas is a huge ecological experiment that explores “greening the desert” by re-introducing native and endangered species of Arabian flora and fauna. Over half the island is dedicated to the Arabian Wildlife Park. The island is a popular resort, where visitors indulge in active land and water sports and walk or drive to view the over 13,000 rare, free-roaming wild animals.