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FrontRunners: Natural Beauty

Photo by Paul Thuysbaert

In a country flush with artificial isles and towering skyscrapers, Sir Bani Yas is an anomaly. The island—a once-deserted landmass that was transformed into the United Arab Emirates’ largest nature preserve in the 1970s—is home to mangrove forests, a wildlife park, and, as of last June, a stylish new beach retreat. Set along an isolated stretch of the Arabian Gulf in Abu Dhabi, Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Yamm Villa Resort (www.anantara.com) features 30 private villas, a swimming pool, an Italian restaurant, and a spa villa—all of which open onto a sandy white beach. Beyond the beach, daily wildlife walks and drives offer up-close encounters with such introduced species as cheetahs, giraffes, gazelles, and Arabian oryx. 


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