SHARM EL SHEIK
The port and town of Sharm-el-Sheikh lies near the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula where the Straits of Tiran meet the Gulf of Aqaba. With its strategic position, the Sinai posed a desirable target for various rulers over the centuries. In recent times, the last battle for the Sinai was fought between Egypt and Israel from 1967 to 1979, ending with a peace treaty signed in Washington, D.C. Since the withdrawal of the Israelis, more and more Egyptians have settled in the Sinai, taking advantage of the booming tourist trade. However, vast interior regions are still sparsely populated. Many Bedouins have been affected by the advent of the 21st century, which is rapidly changing their age-old customs and nomadic lifestyle. As tourism and hotel projects continue to spring up along the Sinai coast, contact with Bedouins not involved in tourism is becoming increasingly rare. Once their nomadic life kept them on the move with their tents; today many Bedouins cultivate grain, vegetables and dates in addition to catering to the tourists. Sharm-el-Sheikh was initially developed by the Israelis during the Sinai occupation. Na'ama Bay, a short drive from the port, has grown from virtually nothing into a sizeable resort since the early 1980s. Between the two towns, a string of hotels line a once-untouched coastline. Resort hotels offer great opportunities for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Glass bottom boat trips are available for those preferring to view the exotic marine life of the Red Sea without getting their feet wet.