Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh, or “Bay of the Old Man” in Arabic, was just a little fishing village until the 1960’s when it took on a major significance in the war between Israel and Egypt. It had taken on another role as a small Egyptian naval base but was captured by the Israelis in 1956, during the Suez Crisis, and subsequently returned to Egyptian ownership in 1957, though a UN peacekeeping force remained there. It was recaptured by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967, remaining under their control until the Sinai Peninsula was once again returned to Egypt in 1982, after the Israeli/Egyptian Peace Treaty of 1979.
During the latter Israeli occupation some commercial developments were started, the Israelis built the town of Ofira, and started the first tourist establishments 4 miles (6 kilometres) to the north at Naama Bay (which means “gift” in Arabic). Once back in Egyptian hands the area was expanded upon, more touristic resorts were created in places like Dahab and Taba, and the whole of this part of the southern Sinai took on a new importance. Sharm El Sheikh was the most important of the resort towns and was awarded its own governorate. Many peace conferences have been held there, giving the city its nickname of “the City of Peace”.
Though many people consider Sharm El Sheikh as somewhere that they can sunbathe and/or go snorkelling, the city offers an enormous amount of diversities: diving, with schools that will train you to international levels; cruising in glass bottom boats; going underwater WITHOUT getting wet in Sindbad’s submarine; the unmissable, trafficless, Naama Bay with its nightclubs, bars, restaurants, shops, and a plethora of things to keep the visitor occupied; ice skating (seriously); trips into the desert by 4x4, quadbikes, camels, or horses; Ros Mohammed Nature reserve; Mount Sinai/Mount Moses, Egypt’s highest mountain and where Moses received the 10 commandments; St. Catherine’s Monastery, site of Moses’ burning bush (well, a descendant of it); basically, if you want it, Sharm El Sheikh has it.