Sharm el-Sheikh
Sharm el-Sheikh

At the tip of the Sinai Peninsula is the sprawling resort community of Sharm el-Sheikh.  At the time of the Israeli invasion, there were only a few small hotels on the Red Sea, catering to dedicated divers interested in the coral reef and shallow waters perfect for snorkeling.  Since 1989, when the Ras Mohammed national park was created, dozens of hotels from every conceivable international chain have opened along the miles of beach.  The commercial center at Na'ama Bay is over-crowded, the beach reduced to a thin sliver between restaurants and shops.  The main shopping street has more variety of international brands than you can find anywhere else outside of Cairo, including a Hard Rock Cafe and several Nike stores.  Our hotel was interesting for two reasons.  First, due to its location a bit aside from the main resort strip.  To one side, there is beautiful blue ocean and a very modern beach, but to the other are the forbidding red hills of the desert and a guard compound.  Second, due to the many Egyptian and other arab tourists who stayed there.  The women sat in beach chairs, draped in long sleeves and skirts and wearing hijabs, providing quite a contrast to the bronzed Europeans in their bikinis.  In the distance from these photos you can see the island of Tahir, one of the key locations that caused the conflict in 1978.  Extra points to anyone who can discern all the things one is not supposed to do on the beach, as shown on the warning signs.


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