Tourism: The oldest Christian site in the UAE is now open to the public
The Church and Monastery of Sir Bani Yas is estimated to be around 1,400 years old…
A monastery from the 7th to the 8th century that was discovered in Abu Dhabi back in 1992 has just been made available for public viewing.
Now called Church and Monastery of Sir Bani Yas, the site is located in the UAE’s capital on the eastern side of Sir Bani Yas Island and is 1,400 years old, thus making it the only known oldest Christian site in the UAE.
An official video released by The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi official Twitter account captured the inauguration ceremony done by HE Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, along with other dignitaries.
Although the inauguration took place on Thursday, June 13, 2019, The Church and Monastery of Sir Bani Yas site was rediscovered in the 1990s but was only open to a select few.
However, in keeping with the Year of Tolerance, the site has now been made open for public viewing, but not before it underwent extensive maintenance.
Speaking to The National, HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, from Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi stated that “It is our duty to ensure that it (the site) is available for people and future generations to discover, enjoy and learn from.”
The site is now sheltered to help protect it from the elements and the animals that reside on Sir Bani Yas Island. Boards have also been added to provide visitors with information and access roads have also been added to improve access.
Lighting has also been installed as night tours also take place.
Also in attendance during the inauguration ceremony was His Excellency Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic in the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia who was also very pleased with the upkeep of the site.
Speaking on the issue of tolerance, Paul Hinder stated that it takes courage to show that Christianity was a part of the reality in this part of the world and is a sign of open-mindedness. 30 monks and included a church, a courtyard, dormitories where the monks prayed and slept, and a kitchen.
After the site’s discovery back in 1992 and careful excavation done by archeologists, crosses began to emerge which helped point out that the settlers of the land were monks. Some of these items can be viewed at The Louvre museum.