Abu Dhabi’s New Attractions

Many people believe that Dubai is the jewel in the crown when it comes to great United Arab Emirates’ tourist facilities. That may well have been true for the past decade or so, but neighbouring Abu Dhabi is fast presenting itself as a destination that could eclipse even Dubai.

The number of tourist facilities in Abu Dhabi are rapidly being expanded, and new attractions are being added to existing facilities. For instance, guests at the five-star Desert Islands Resort & Spa on the nature-based Sir Bani Yas Island, have an even greater experience in store thanks to enriched, visitor-related enhancements.

Guest can now get up close and personal, at eye-level, with the island’s giraffes from a purpose-built viewing platform made completely from recycled materials.

Those who prefer to shun heights, even if it is only at giraffe eye level, should make a beeline for the Arabian Wildlife Park, which has introduced a pair of caracal lynxes. These pointy-eared cats have already birthed two kittens since being returned to a natural environment under the same conservation programme that saw hyenas and cheetahs re introduced to Sir Bani Yas last year.

For those with a nautical bent, new ‘Cruises and Sails’ itineraries offer several packages on the Arabian Gulf, and, unusually for a region which supplies much of the world’s oil, the world’s first two zero-emission buses are now shepherding guests around the island’s beautiful landscapes and abundant wildlife hotspots.

Abu Dhabi has embraced eco tourism with much enthusiasm.

Yet more developments on Sir Bani Yas have come with the public opening of the UAE’s only discovered Christian monastery. The historically-important archaeological site makes Sir Bani Yas one of the very few destinations in the world to offer a holistic tourism experience, covering wildlife, nature based activities, a 5-star boutique hotel and sites of historical significance.

The pre-Islamic monastery, which is believed to have been built around 600 AD, was initially discovered on the 87 square kilometre island during excavations in 1992. Now almost two decades since its discovery, and more than a thousand years since it was built, the general public can visit the site and experience another piece of the rich tapestry that makes up the UAE’s fascinating history.

There are still more projects which are coming to fruition. Later this year, Desert Islands Resort & Spa, which is managed by the award-winning Anantara group, will add the Sir Bani Yas Stables and Watersports centre for visitors looking to explore the island on horseback, or its underwater beauty via scuba gear.

As well, Two Arabian-inspired lodges are being developed and are scheduled to open later this year. These lodges will offer guests two substantially different views; those looking either inland at the Arabian Wildlife Park with its herds of free-roaming animals, or those which look out towards the beach and mangrove lagoon.

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