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Sir Banyas Island – A Jungle in the Middle of a Desert

The Middle East has its own unique collection of desert dwelling wildlife. Camels have become synonymous with this side of the world, usually spotted striking a toothsome smile on a postcard. If you’ve ever seen one of those, you’ll know that camels are certainly not synonymous with dental hygiene. People who call the Middle East their childhood home will recall only seeing exotic animals either at the local zoo or on Animal Planet. Everything else was left to imagination. The late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan added a touch of finance to his imagination, and the island of Sir Banyas was born. Wedged between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the island was once just barren acres of sand that inhabited the occasional Bedouin tribe and cactus garden.

The island is now a wildlife sanctuary and houses species from all over the world. Vibrant flora and fauna mingle on this island that could easily form the backdrop of a Lion King sequel. A typical stroll will reveal glimpses of resting cheetahs, a dawdling ostrich and even waltzing giraffes! That’s not the most shocking feature of the island, though. It also serves as a natural museum, housing relics of ancient Christian monasteries and primitive remnants of irrigation farms. All visitors are considered guests of the animals on the island. It doesn’t matter where you come from or who your father is, if you pose any threat to the animals; your wallet and you will have the police to answer.

Have you visited this island? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!

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Nichole Nikoliovich

The name's Nichole! I'm four feet and eleven inches of too much to handle. I believe that the pen is mightier than the sword. Well thank heavens for that, because I can't lift anything heavier than a pen.

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