Sharm El Sheikh is a city situated on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, in South Sinai Governorate, Egypt, on the coastal strip along the Red Sea. Its population is approximately 73,000 as of 2015. Sharm El Sheikh is the administrative hub of Egypt’s South Sinai Governorate, which includes the smaller coastal towns of Dahab and Nuweiba as well as the mountainous interior, St. Catherine and Mount Sinai. Today the city is a holiday resort and a significant centre for tourism in Egypt.
THE NAME IS ALSO SOMETIMES WRITTEN AS SHARM AL-SHEIKH, SHARM EL-SHEIK OR SHARM AL-SHEIK IN ENGLISH.
Years after the Israeli settlement of Ofira was built during the Israeli occupation from 1967 to 1982, modern Sharm El Sheikh was founded by Egyptians. The name of the city is commonly shortened to “Sharm”.
Geography and history
Sharm El Sheikh is on a promontory overlooking the Straits of Tiran at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba. Its strategic importance led to its transformation from a fishing village into a major port and naval base for the Egyptian Navy. It was captured by Israel during the Suez Crisis of 1956 and restored to Egypt in 1957. A United Nations peacekeeping force was subsequently stationed there until the 1967 Six-Day War when it was recaptured by Israel. Sharm El Sheikh remained under Israeli control until the Sinai peninsula was restored again to Egypt in 1982 after the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979.
Before 1967, Sharm El Sheikh was little more than an occasional base of operations for local fishermen; the nearest permanent settlement was in Nabk, north of Ras El Nasrani (“The Tiran Straits”). Commercial development of the area began during the Israeli presence in the area. The Israelis built the town of Ofira, overlooking Sharm El Maya Bay and the Nesima area, and opened the first tourist-oriented establishments in the area 6 km north at Naama Bay. These included a marina hotel on the southern side of the bay, a nature field school on the northern side, diving clubs, a now well-known promenade, and the Naama Bay Hotel.
After Sinai was restored to Egypt in 1982, the Egyptian government embarked on an initiative to encourage continued development of the city. Foreign investors – some of whom had discovered the potential of the locality during the Israeli occupation – contributed to a spate of building projects. Environmental zoning laws currently limit the height of buildings in Sharm El Sheikh so as to avoid obscuring the natural beauty of the surroundings.
Economy and tourism
Sharm El Sheikh was formerly a port, but commercial shipping has been greatly reduced as the result of strict environmental laws introduced in the 1990s.
Until 1982, there was only a military port in Sharm El Sheikh, on the northern part of Marsa Bareka. The civilian port development started in the mid-1980s, when the Sharm-al-Maya Bay became the city’s main yacht and service port
Sharm El Sheikh’s major industry is foreign and domestic tourism, owing to its dramatic landscape, year-round dry climate with long hot summers and warm winters as well as long stretches of natural beaches. Its waters are clear and calm for most of the year and have become popular for various watersports, particularly recreational scuba diving and snorkelling. There is great scope for scientific tourism with diversity in marine life species; 250 different coral reefs and 1000 species of fish.
These natural resources, together with its proximity to European tourism markets, have stimulated the rapid growth of tourism that the region is currently experiencing. The total number of resorts increased from three in 1982 to ninety-one in 2000. Guest nights also increased in that period of time from sixteen thousand to 5.1 million. Companies that have been attracted to invest in this city include Hyatt Regency, Accor, Marriott, Le Méridien, Four Seasons, and Ritz-Carlton, with categories of three to five stars. In 2007, the area saw the opening of its first aqua park hotel resort. The four-star Aqua Blu Sharm Resort was built on the Ras Om El Seid, with an area of 133,905 square metres (1,441,340 sq ft).
Sharm is also the home of a congress center, located along Peace Road, where many international political and economic meetings have been held, including peace conferences, ministerial meetings, world bank meetings, and Arab League meetings.
The Maritim Sharm El Sheikh International Congress Centre can host events and congresses for up to 4,700 participants.
The nightlife of Sharm El Sheikh is modern and developed. The colorful handicraft stands of the local Bedouin culture are a popular attraction. Ras Mohammed, at the southernmost tip of the peninsula, has been designated a national park, serving to protect the area’s wildlife as well as its natural landscape, shoreline and coral reef. A number of international hotels and noted restaurants are clustered around the centre of Sharm, known as Naama Bay, with golf courses and other leisure facilities further up the coast.
Lampposts on El Salaam Street use solar power. Taxis and buses are numbered for safety Sharm’s marina have been redeveloped for private yachts and sailing boats, with a passenger terminal for cruise ships.
Sharm has frequent coach services to Cairo leaving from the Delta Sharm bus station
ferry Boat to Hurghada,
July is the hottest month in Sharm El Sheikh with an average temperature of 33°C (91°F) and the coldest is January at 18°C (64°F) with the most daily sunshine hours at 13 in August. The wettest month is December with an average of 4mm of rain. The best month to swim in the sea is in August when the average sea temperature is 29°C (84°F).
Scuba diving and water sports
Sharm El Sheikh has also become a favourite spot for scuba divers from around the world Being situated near the Red Sea, it provides some of the most stunning underwater scenery and warm water, making this an ideal place to dive. Visitors to Sharm El Sheikh can experience a variety of water activities. Beach seekers find many activities such as diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, kitesurfing, parasailing, boating, and canoeing. Ras Mohammed is the national park of South Sinai, located on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Along with Nabq, it has famous dive sites in the Red Sea, with 800-metre-deep (2,600 ft) reef walls, pounding current and coral gardens
The Sharm El Sheikh Hyperbaric Medical Center was founded in 1993 (with a grant from USAID) by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, represented to assist with diving-related illnesses and complete the area’s reputation as a full-service dive destination.
International schools :
- Sharm International British School
- St. Joseph Schools
- El Fayrouz School
- Geel October school
Sharm el-Sheikh city has been subdivided into five areas, namely Nabq Bay, Ras Nasrani, Naama Bay, Umm Sid, and Sharm El Maya. Together with Hay el Nour, Hadaba, Rowaysat, Montazah and Shark’s Bay, it forms a metropolitan area of 42 square kilometres.
May be you heard about this place before! If you’re heading for the place where it’s all happening, day and night, the sandy Naama bay shall be your destination: the sandy beautiful bay is the pumping heart of Sharm El Sheikh and your place to stay.
The first hotel in Naama, the Helnan Marina Sharm, was built over there before 1980. The area is still considered as a paradise for snorkelers and divers who can enjoy very well preserved coral reefs and amazing colourful fish species.
This strip of Sharm El Sheikh’s beachfront is home to dozens of Diving centres and luxurious hotels and resorts. Here, you can experience all types of beach and water activities including glass-boat rides, kayaking, Parasailing, wind surfing, banana boat rides and of course, most importantly, swimming and sunbathing.
And the Night life there is Really Crazy and too many famous Clubs from Ibiza … Pacha, space etc,
Nabq Bay is on a promontory overlooking the Straits of Tiran at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba.
Old Market can be found in the centre of Sharm El Sheikh in the Old Town. This place is bustling with colour, sounds and smells. It is an excellent place for tourists to pick up a few souvenirs and soak up the atmosphere.The Old Market is like a typical Egyptian Bazaar, there are shops offering anything from water pipes to handbags! However, you must be aware, being a tourist means you will be approached on every corner by salesman hoping to try and bring you into their shop. A firm and simple “no thank you” will often make them go away, whilst others may be more persistent. If you decide to buy anything make sure to haggle as it is part of the fun and you are sure to get a discount. Women may also want to dress respectfully, covering shoulders and wearing a headscarf to detract attention.
Hadaba ( Ras Umm Sid ) : is a beautiful area & very quiet.
- Il Mercato shopping & Dining Area
- Farsha Mountain Lounge
- El Fanar Beach
- Aquapark water park
Shark’s Bay Area & SOHO Square
Shark’s bay Area is located behind Sharm International airport Facing Tiran Island ,
SOHO Square Sharm El Sheikh brings a complete family entertainment centre , with a range of entertainment including restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs catering for tastes both young and old.
In the British house you can enjoy a pint at the authentic Queen Vic pub, before moving upstairs to the sushi and Tepanyaki bar or the fabulous steak house , bowling , Ice Bar & Dancing Fountain .
How To Get to Sharm ?
Sharm el-Sheikh Airport is the largest in the Sinai and receives planeloads of charter tourists daily in the winter high season. The only airline for local flights is EgyptAir . Your travel agent may have trouble booking flights with them but they can also be booked on some of the online booking engines.
For departures: timetable shows only nearest 1-2 hours, makes you watch over the row of check-in desks for your flight number.
Cafes after security check are: Sbarro (overcrowded), Cafe Europa’ (on the back of the lounge, less crowded): sandwiches, coffee, Egyptian sweets; outlet of Caffè Ritazza international chain coming soon (also in Athens, Budapest, Madrid, Milan, London, Paris, New York, Stockholm, Zurich, Vienna).
After security check there is a Patisserie offering lucums, khalva and other Egyptian sweets.
There is a ferry between Hurghada and Sharm. This runs on a very variable schedule, with a catamaran which takes about 90 minutes or the ferry which takes about 6 hours. There is a ferry from Nuweiba to Aqaba which leaves at 11:00 and 18:00, again patience is required to handle the flexible timetable.
Sharm el-Sheikh can be reached by driving down the eastern coast from Eilat Israel via Nuweiba and Dahab , or via the western coast from Cairo . There are daily buses for both routes. From Cairo,East Delta buses take approximately 8h while Superjet buses take 6 hrs. When taking the bus from Cairo, keep your bus ticket and passport handy, as you will pass through a number of checkpoints, which require passengers to present identification and ticket. The drive is interesting with beautiful scenery, throughout the route.
Public transportations :
Micro-bus fees ( The Blue Bus ) If your journey is within a kilometer or two, the cost should be about (LE 3 to 5 LE). If your stop is further out, or if you are travelling during the late night hours, be prepared to get a demand for more money, in some cases drivers may demand up to (LE 10 or LE 20). Demands for higher fees can also take place, if the driver feels he you have money! So, be prepared to negotiate. If the drivers fee is unreasonable simply get out, this will often bring down the cost. One final note on fees, when arriving, ask a local how much the bus costs before hailing one down. The information provided will give you a base-line price, from which you can bargain with.
In Sharm the taxis are generally modern models, either Hyundai or Chevrolet. Don’t bother with the meter in the taxi,it probably does not work any more,they soon break due to the dust,and would work out more than the “fixed” prices anyway. Always note the drivers ID number. Don’t assume they have meters. Locals tell you they don’t. Make sure you have transportation waiting for you, or better yet take an airport Limo its quite expensive but has a fixed advertised rate inside the arrival hall at the airport.
Sharm el Sheikh airport is the worst part of Egypt for getting a reasonably priced taxi. They will ask for 150-400 LE for the 10 minute ride to Nabq. So, make sure you negotiate a rate lower than the limo advertised rate inside the arrival hall. Make sure you have Egyptian currency to pay the fare and never pay before you reach your destination making sure you only pay the pre-arranged price. Make sure that the driver knows that you are paying in Egyptian pounds , or you can book your transfer online to avoid all of this hassle .