The Arabian oryx is a beautiful, almost luminously white antelope. But, after being over-hunted by humans in the 20th century, it only narrowly escaped extinction. Today, on the desert island of Sir Bani Yas, the endangered animals find refuge. Part of an archipelago west of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas is home to a large wildlife reserve, where animals from Arabia, Asia and Africa roam freely. You can watch cheetahs hunting, and imagine how the Bedouins once lived, under open desert skies. Established in the 1970s, extensive ecological measures turned Sir Bani Yas into a man-made “paradise for wild animals.” Now, the reserve stands for the region’s desire for a sustainable future. It’s also a great place to see the magnificent Arabian oryx running free, once more.
Sir Bani Yas Island is part of the Al Gharbia region of the United Arab Emirates. It’s dominated by the Arabian Wildlife Park, with its roaming giraffes, cheetahs and gazelles. Multiple archaeological sites across the island include the ruins of an ancient Christian monastery. Salt dome hills define the island’s desert interior. The coast features beaches, sea kayak routes and a shipwreck.