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Ancient Christian Site in UAE Opens to Visitors - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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DUBAI, (AFP) – A 1,400-year-old monastery that is the only known pre-Islamic Christian site in the United Arab Emirates has opened to visitors, The National newspaper reported on Sunday.

The monastery on Sir Bani Yas island in Abu Dhabi emirate is “believed to be the only permanent settlement ever established on the island” and “the only pre-Islamic Christian site known in the UAE,” it said.

It is believed to have been built around 600 AD by a community of 30-40 monks and was discovered in 1992, said the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Development Company which is developing the island.

Dr Joseph Elders, the chief archaeologist for the Church of England, is leading the team excavating the site, the company said in a statement.

“Twenty years ago, we had no idea that Christians came this far south and east” in the Gulf region, The National quoted Elders as saying. “We don’t have many monasteries from this period.”

The people who lived at the monastery probably belonged to the “Nestorian Church, or Church of the East,” it said, adding that the settlement was abandoned after about 750 AD.

It opened to the public on Saturday.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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