Sharm el-Sheikh News

Sharm el-Sheikh News

News About Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt by South Sinai Travel.
Please feel free to email SST ( with any news items you would like to have posted. The Official Tour Egypt Voice in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt November 7th, 2006

InterContinental Hotels Group announces new GM for Taba Heights Resort

InterContinental Hotels Group, the world's most global hotel operator, has appointed Franck Naulleau as the General Manager for the new InterContinental Resort Taba Heights, Egypt. Naulleau joined the InterContinental Hotels Group a year ago as General Manager for InterContinental Sharm El Sheikh and is looking forward to the challenge of working closely with the team in further building the hotel's reputation as one the most premium resort developments in the region, encompassing 5km of beachfront on the Sinai's Red Sea's coast.

The resort boasts 503 guest rooms and suites, 11 restaurants and bars, swimming pools and an aqua centre surrounded by white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and stunning desert scenery, making this property an ideal get away.

I am delighted to be given the opportunity to manage this stunning property, which is proving a major attraction to tourists from around the globe with its prime location and short traveling distance to amazing places such as the Taba Protected Area, Mount Sinai, the amazing Blue Desert and some of the Middle East's top dive spots,' said Naulleau.

Michel Augier, Acting Chief Operating Officer, InterContinental Hotels Group, Middle East & Africa said: Naulleau proved himself in InterContinental Sharm El Sheikh and we wish him continued success within the beautiful resort of Taba Heights where we are confident he will put this property firmly on the Middle East map, with several exciting, new world-class facilities being introduced in 2007.

Posted by South Sinai Travel: - 6:23 am - November 6th, 2006

Egypt's premiere beach resort is all grown up and packing in foreign tourists

(Article by Hadia Mostafa) By far the most popular holiday destination in Egypt, Sharm El-Sheikh can easily be described as a classic, and it's not difficult to understand why: Provided you steer away from national holidays, when things can get a little too crowded, you can never go wrong with this seaside paradise. Whether you're into diving, water sports or just sunning yourself on the beach, it's one of the most idyllic vacation spots in the world.

Perched on the southern-most tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Sharm is actually a series of bays nestled in between graceful mountain ranges offering a picturesque backdrop that mesmerizes local and international tourists alike.

The most famous and developed of Sharm's bays is Na'ama, where pioneering hotels, resorts and diving centers first took up residence in the mid-1980s when Sinai returned to Egypt. No one imagined at the time that the handful of original dive centers and primitive hotels would, 20 years later, become a part of the bustling commercial center that is now home to the likes of McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Peking, Hard Rock Caf and Little Buddha.

Don't worry if you have left anything behind in Cairo: Na'ama Bay now has its own mall, with retailers including Nike, Puma and Mobaco as well as dozens of other apparel, souvenir and home accessories shops and supermarkets begging to cater to your every need (at Sharm prices, of course).

At all hours of the day and night, Na'ama is lively with tourists who frequent its legendary promenade, which stretches from one end of the bay to the other. Most of the hotels have set up outdoor dining areas-slash-snack bars along the waterfront, where you can enjoy lunch and dinner, as well as the traditional shisha and tea.

But diving enthusiasts claim the real attraction lies beneath the surface of the crystal blue waters. Hundreds of diving centers in the area attract adventurers to the underwater wonders of the Red Sea, which boasts some of the world's most spectacular coral and marine life. It is relatively quick, easy and inexpensive to obtain an open water diver's license from one of Sharm's PADI-licensed diving centers.

For certified divers, excursions are available from Na'ama Bay to Sharm El-Sheikh's best known dive sites, which include Ras Nusrani, White Knight and Ras Umm Sid, famous for its magnificent fan corals. Ras Mohamed National Park and the Straits of Tiran are also must-sees. Divers can experience the famous drop-off and amazing drift dives. If snorkeling is more your speed, there are also an abundance of shallow water reefs around Sharm's bays.

Six kilometers north of Na'ama Bay is Shark's Bay, a quieter, less-developed area ideal for divers or diving students who prefer a less commercial atmosphere. The beach at Shark's Bay is a primitive version of Na'ama, where you can relax on the sand with a book without interruptions or distractions.

If it's luxury you are after, Sharm El-Sheikh now has an abundance of resorts that offer guests the very best in accommodations, dining and relaxation. The Jolie Ville M?venpick Golf Resort, with its 18-hole golf course, club house and spa, is attracting golf enthusiasts from around the world, while the Ritz-Carlton sits in the midst of 100,000 square meters of lush landscape. Famous for its luxurious cliff-top spa, the Ritz can be a vacation in and of itself. The Four Seasons Sharm El-Sheikh is also an amazing choice for those who want to bypass the bustling Na'ama Bay and pamper themselves in style. Exquisite guest rooms are clustered on a hillside above a dazzling view of the Red Sea.

When the sun sets, Sharm comes to life with its thousands of glittering lights reflected in the still, black waters of the sea. If you're not too busy with night dives, there are plenty of evening outings to accommodate a range of tastes. Nighttime entertainment at most hotels and resorts will undoubtedly prove corny for Egyptians and resident expats, but will delight many foreign tourists.

For years, the center of Sharm El-Sheikh's nightlife has been the Sanafir complex, the hotel-cum-entertainment zone that has been home to Bus Stop, Sharm's coolest pub turned dance club and the now-defunct roof-top caf, a past favorite for mellow star gazers and shisha lovers. Sanafir has now been transformed into Pacha, as in the Ibiza Pacha franchise, complete with Red Cherry Logo, wild house parties, pulsing techno music and hundreds of scantily clad partiers dancing till dawn on the huge outdoor dance floor, inside swimming pools and on top of stages and platforms scattered throughout.

If you haven't been to Sharm recently, you'll likely find the scene inside Pacha shocking compared to the laid back atmosphere in the Sanafir of yesteryear. Sanafir owner's Adly El Mestekawy, a Sharm veteran, began his business in 1982 by building huts and a snack bar for divers. From there, it evolved into a unique hotel with white-domed roofs built on different levels surrounding a central courtyard. By 1999, the central courtyard was transformed into an open air dance floor with a capacity to accommodate 3,000 people and the hotel into a nightclub that hosted House Nation parties with international DJ's at least once a week.

In April 2004, the transformation was complete as the first Pacha in Africa and the Middle East opened its doors.

Pacha Sharm has the essence of Ibiza with a twist of 1001 Arabian Nights, says Maya Challita, Mestekawy's wife and Pacha Sharm's marketing director. Indeed, this place is not for the faint at heart. If techno music isn't your thing, you can escape to the adjacent Bus Stop, which is still intact with its own dance floor and DJ, who plays a variety of hip-hop, R&B and top-40 hits.

As for the star gazers, they should clear the area and proceed next door to the Camel Dive Club and Hotel for a blast from the past. This is one Sharm original that has not shed its skin. In place since 1986, though the Camel Dive Club has evolved, it has not changed. Owners Hesham and Sameh Gabr successfully grew their establishment from a basic dive club to a well-established brand that has become synonymous with Sharm.

Today, the Camel Dive Club has a hotel, the Camel Bar (offering both indoor and outdoor venues with rooftop cushions and shishas a favorite with old timers), the Chameleon Restaurant, and the latest addition, the Tandoori Indian restaurant, arguably the best Indian food in Sharm.

The Details

Eat & Sleep

Some of your best bets include the Hyatt Regency, five minutes away from Na'ama Bay (tel: (069) 360-1234), with ultra-helpful and respectful staff, blissful quiet and great food. The Savoy Sharm El-Sheikh Resort on White Knight Beach is part of the Ras Mohamed National Park complex (call their Cairo office at (02) 263-4273/79/57). The Ritz-Carlton (tel: (069) 366-1919) and Four Seasons Sharm El-Sheikh (tel: (096) 360-3555) offer the ultimate in Sharm luxury. The Jolie Ville M?venpick Resort is a sure bet for its fantastically consistent service and central location on Na'ama Bay (tel: (069) 360-0100/1/2).

In Ras Nusrani, try the Conrad International Sharm El-Sheikh Resort (tel: (069) 367-0585). In Na'ama Bay proper, the Hilton Fayrouz Village (tel: (069) 360-0136/141) was one of the first hotels to open; it still occupies the largest and most central position on the beach. Also worth a look is the Sofitel (tel: (069) 360-0081/90), perched atop a cliff on the northernmost edge of Na'ama Bay. The Sheraton Sharm (tel: (069) 360-2070) is blends into the landscape.

New to the scene is the Renaissance Golden View Beach Resort (tel: (069) 366-4694).

Other options include the InterContinental Garden Reef Resort (tel: (069) 360-0006), Radisson Sharm (tel: (069) 371-0315), and the Pyramisa Resort & Villas in Shark's Bay (tel: (069) 361-1091)

The Camel Dive Club and Hotel (tel: (069) 360-0700/1/2) remains the most famous dive center in Sharm. In many ways, Sharm has now surpassed Cairo in the quality and variety of its dining and entertainment venues. One impressive newcomer is the Little Buddha Bar, which opened in Na'ama Bay in April 2005. The sister venue of the original Buddha Bar Paris, Little Buddha Sharm will not disappoint. This restaurant, sushi bar and lounge has a very diverse Fusion, Japanese, French, Asian and Pacific gourmet menu that is by far more sophisticated than anything Sharm has ever had to offer. After midnight the music heats up a bit as the mood gradually changes from chill out to party. (For reservations, call (069) 360-1030. Open only for dinner starting from 6pm.)

Sala Thai at the Hyatt Regency (open only for dinner) is one of the best Thai restaurants in Egypt. We recommend dining al fresco on the terrace for an unforgettable view of the sea and the mountains.

Rangoli (open only for dinner), the Sofitel's Indian restaurant, is a longtime favorite with its delicious Indian delicacies and amazing panoramic view of Na'ama Bay, but it appears to have a new rival, the Camel Dive Club's Tandoori. Less posh than Rangoli, Tandoori now has a cult following with Indian food lovers. It also offers an elevated outdoor seating area that distances diners from Na'ama Bay's noisy main thoroughfare.

The Sinai Star is a traditional seafood joint in downtown Sharm El-Sheikh. No menus, no gimmicks, just quality seafood in a very basic warehouse setting. More exotic is El Fanar, perched atop a cliff in Ras Umm Sid, a unique eatery serving good Italian fare and fresh seafood.

If you're looking for stunning seafood but a little more pampering in the service department than Sinai Star, check out Safsafa, in the Na'ama Bay shopping complex next to the Hard Rock Caf. Seafood here is ultra-fresh and prepared exactly to your liking even if the item isn't on the menu.

There & Away

Fly to Sharm El-Sheikh on Egypt Air, which has several flights per day with the number depending on the day of the week and the season. There are at least five buses a day from most major Cairo bus terminals; call bus operators for details.

Posted by South Sinai Travel: - 3:30 am - November 6th, 2006

Triathlon scheduled VALUABLE prizes including a return air-ticket to Dubai and accommodation packages for short stays in Alexandria, Sharm el Sheikh and Dubai are up for grabs to the winners of tomorrows Amwaj Triathlon starting at 8.30am and being held in co-operation with Ossis Property Developers (Amwaj Island owners) and Expert for Events and Exhibitions at the Amwaj Islands.

The first place finishers in each of the mens open age group 16 to 39, veterans and womens category will each win a trophy and a BD100 cash prize. Second place is worth BD70, third BD50 and fourth and fifth BD30 each.

A raffle competition is also being held with television and electronic items for the winners including some mystery prizes.

Several runners from the UAE and Saudi Arabia are set to take part in the event comprising a 750-metre swim in the lagoon, followed by 16-km of cycling over two laps on main roads and a five-km run on main roads all within the Amwaj Islands.

Entry is BD5 per athlete for either individuals or teams of two or three. It is open to all aged 16 and above, both male and female.

All competitors receive a free t-shirt, certificate for all finishers and a raffle ticket for 30 mystery prizes to be drawn on all finishers names.

Registration is open on the day of the event from 7 to 8am at the venue. A prize presentation will take place from 10.30 to 11am.

Medical services are available and all cyclists must wear helmets. For more information contact the event director Adnan Al Qassab on 39685547 or

Posted by South Sinai Travel: - 3:26 am - November 6th, 2006

The Sunday Times - Travel

Coral kingdoms

THE CHEAPEST and closest coral destination to the UK is the Egyptian Red Sea. The established resort towns of the north, Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh, both have access to good reefs. For the best coral, visit the offshore reefs of the Fury Shoal in Egypt's less-developed deep south. My favourite site here is a series of shallow coral caves known as Sha'ab Claude, where shafts of light cut through openings in the roof, turning the caves into coral cathedrals. Regaldive (0870 220 1777, has seven nights at the luxurious Lahami Bay, the southernmost beach resort in Egypt, for 669pp (based on two sharing), including flights from Gatwick, transfers and half-board accommodation. Five days' boat diving costs an extra 205.

Posted by South Sinai Travel: - 3:23 am - May 22nd, 2006

Arab promise

In interview with Mohamed Sabreen, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, discusses the regional and national challenges and opportunities ahead in the Arab world

You are coming to Egypt for a meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Sharm El-Sheikh. Its theme is the promise of a new generation.

What promise do you think the next generation holds; how can this promise be fulfilled? In what ways can the WEF be a positive force in this regard?

The emergence of a new generation of leaders and citizens holds tremendous promise for the future of the region and the world. Empowered by education, leadership and entrepreneurial skills, this new generation of leaders will hold the key to realising the regions extraordinary development potential. The challenge, however, lies in how to meet the needs and expectations of the new generation. The World Economic Forum on the Middle East held in Sharm El-Sheikh will shape the regional agenda towards bold decisions that will provide hope and opportunity for young people.

How do you see the situation in Egypt? Are Arab leaders reluctant to implement reform following the recent economic boom? What key areas of change will the meeting focus on, and how will the meeting address relations between the United States and the Middle East, and also the regions ties with India and China?

There is a growing acceptance among prominent leaders, both in Egypt and in the Arab world, that only comprehensive economic reform will enable the region to broaden its sources of growth and propel its development agenda forward. But what should be the priorities for leaders as they embark on a process of reform? Job creation must be at the heart of the regions future, and the business agenda and labour market issues will form the core of a stimulating and comprehensive programme in Sharm El-Sheikh. Other sub-themes will cover the rule of law, peace, security and international relations, and issues of youth, culture and identity. The meeting will also address issues surrounding the relations between the region and the United States.

The issue of gender equality is on the agenda. What do you hope can be achieved in this regard during the meeting?

Gender issues form an integral part of the agenda. This meeting will focus on strengthening institutions for women in the region. Discussions will be centred on womens empowerment and the role of business and governments. My hope is that the workshops and sessions will later lead to actions and policies that will promote womens leadership and the fulfilment of their untapped potential.

According to the Arab World Competitiveness Report, the Middle East is at a crossroads. What is at stake?

That the region will likely have the fastest labour force expansion in the world over the next 15 years is both an opportunity and a challenge. Social and political stability is at stake, as well as the ability of the countries to respond and adapt to a rapidly changing global economic landscape. The region needs a growth strategy that is aimed at increasing the regions competitiveness. Failure to act now to address this demographic trajectory could have disastrous economic and political consequences.

There is a burgeoning unemployment problem in the region that needs to be urgently addressed. How can it be addressed?

The labour force in the Middle East and North Africa region is projected to rise to close to 200 million within the next 20 years. Even to maintain unemployment rates at present levels, tens of millions of jobs will need to be created. Of course, to actually bring unemployment rates down to more sustainable levels, job creation will have to be more ambitious, in excess of a 100 million new jobs between 2020-25. This is a huge challenge for policymakers and the business community.

Far-reaching reforms are required, including diversifying and injecting dynamism into markets through greater participation by the private sector. Job creation must remain at the top of the reform agenda. Entrepreneurship must be promoted and barriers to new business creation must be minimised. The quality of the national business environment especially the investment climate must be enhanced. Finally, and most importantly, it is imperative to invest in people, especially in their education and skills training and re- training.

Civil society in most parts of the world and Arab countries are no exception has much higher expectations today with regard to governments and their ability to deliver services, job opportunities and to be competent in macroeconomic management. What specifically should top the Arab economic reform agenda?

Despite the need for extensive reforms, we must not overlook that some governments in the region have already taken significant initiatives and measures to improve governance. Still, much remains to be done ranging from increasing accountability, broadening political participation, improving allocation of public resources and enhancing delivery of government services to the public.

Why are inflows of foreign direct investment to the region often five times smaller than the levels seen in other emerging markets?

Inflows of foreign direct investment to the region have historically been low relative to other emerging markets, reflecting the extent and nature of the regions integration in the global economy. But it is noteworthy that structural reforms recently undertaken by several economies augur very well for the prospects of increased investment in the region. The types of reforms that have been instituted to improve the investment climate include enhanced fiscal incentives, relaxation of foreign ownership limits, privatisation and capital markets reform.

Are governments using the unexpected budgetary resources following the oil driven boom to push forward reforms, or are tough decisions now on hold?

Despite the danger that commitment to reform may wane in light of the windfall from oil prices, leaders in the region are becoming more cognizant of the urgency for reform, realising the dangers and costs of inaction. It is encouraging that some governments are taking significant strides towards economic diversification and the promotion of international trade and investment. Clearly, much more needs to be done, but the reform process has notably and cert ainly gained momentum.

How can the private sector and civil society maintain pressure on governments to plan for the long term, taking into account the needs of the regions youth?

The private sector and civil society must work in partnership with governments to plan for the long term. The new generation has the greatest stake in the future and the young leaders that represent it should be involved in the deliberations. These leaders have much to contribute, especially in crafting bold and creative strategies to address persistent problems in the region.

The WEFs Gender Gap Report found that women in Egypt are furthest behind men in terms of economic equality, with four Islamic countries ranked at the bottom of the survey. What does this imply for economic prosperity in the Arab world, and what can be done?

Women constitute the greatest untapped asset in the region. As such, the regions future economic prosperity rests on its ability to realise the potential of its women. Much can be done towards womens empowerment, including greater investments in education and skills training, as well as fostering entrepreneurship. Institutions need to be strengthened to integrate women more fully into all areas of human endeavour, from economy and politics, to the arts and culture.

Posted by South Sinai Travel: - 9:38 am - May 22nd, 2006

World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum started Saturday in Egypt
Mideast business leaders gather in Egypt's resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss reforms, youth employment.

By Mona Salem - CAIRO

(Middle East Online) Arab and Israeli political and business leaders are to meet for three days in Egypts resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from Saturday, only a month after the Sinai was hit by a fresh spate of suicide bombings.

Some 1,200 leaders from the Middle East and beyond are expected to converge on the Red Sea resort for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) Middle East.

This regional Davos will be inaugurated by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and focus on reforms and the issue of youth employment, under the theme, The promise of a new generation. Yet much of the attention will focus on the interaction between Palestinian and Israeli officials, as the international community maintains huge pressure on the Hamas-led government.

Moderate Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas is expected to hold talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as well as Mubarak.

The Islamist movement Hamas, which is not expected to send any of its ministers to the WEF, has been seeking Arab and Muslim financial support after Washington and the European Union froze their aid to the Palestinians.

Western countries, which have propped up the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority for years, want the radical Hamas to recognise Israels right to exist.

The meeting, which was last held in Jordan in 2005, will take place amid a tight security deployment.

We have organised an exceptional security set-up to ensure safety at the forum, using the latest technology and specialised squads, Interior Minister Habib al-Adly told reporters.

On April 24, three suicide bombings ripped through the Sinai resort of Dahab, further up the Red Sea coast, killing 20 people, including foreign tourists, and wounding around 90.

Sharm el-Sheikh itself was hit by multiple bombings in July 2005 that killed some 70 people.

Egyptian Trade Minister Rashid Mohammed Rashid said that its hosting of the summit paid tribute to the trust the world has in the stability and security of Egypt.

Among the highest-profile participants of the forum will be US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, who has been involved in intensive consultations in the region and was instrumental in securing a partial peace deal for Sudans Darfur region earlier this month.

Other prominent guests include Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, as well as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a string of ministers from the region.

Organisers have emphasised the need to secure more job opportunities for the regions booming youth population.

The current oil windfall should be used with long-term projects in mind and for the creation of new opportunities for future generations, said Sherif al-Diwany, the Middle East and North Africa director for the WEF.

The World Bank warned during the last edition of the forum that the Middle East would need a six-seven percent growth rate over the next 20 years if it was to prevent unemployment rates from reaching 25 percent.

Protests by leftist organisations opposed to liberal economic policies promoted by the World Economic Forum are expected on Saturday and Sunday in the Egyptian capital.

Posted by South Sinai Travel: - 9:34 am - May 22nd, 2006

Ready for business

Regional business and political leaders commitment to reform will be placed under the microscope at the World Economic Forum meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, report Niveen Wahish and Injy El-Kashef

The World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East, scheduled for 20-22 May in Sharm El-Sheikh, comes at a precarious moment. Domestic tensions are growing as the confrontation between judges and the state escalates; emergency rule has been extended for a further two years; Egypts tourist industry has still to calculate the impact of last months Dahab bombings and regional stock markets continue their nose dive. Yet the message Egyptian officials are keen to deliver to investors at the forum has not changed Egypt is ready and open for business.

While Hanaa Kheireddin, executive director of the Egyptian Centre for Economic Studies, suggests that recent events give the impression that things are not very stable and the government not in control, other economic analysts believe the government has a strong case to make.

The reforms undertaken in the past two years have created a good foundation for marketing Egypt, insists Yasser El-Mallawany, chairman and CEO of EFG-Hermes, one of the forums strategic partners. Tariffs and taxes have been drastically reduced, the privatisation programme given a new lease of life and a package of legislation introduced to support private sector-driven growth and improve competitiveness.

But Egypt will not be the only focus of attention at the Sharm El-Sheikh meeting. This forum offers a chance to draw global attention to investment opportunities across the Arab world, adds El-Mallawany.

The boom in oil prices has had a positive impact on some Arab economies, and since 9/11 many Gulf states have shifted their investment strategies away from the US market. At the same time, however, the ability of the [regions] countries to respond and adapt to a rapidly changing global economic landscape, will be the key factor in whether or not investments can be sustained, WEF founder and chairman Klaus Schwab told Al-Ahram.

While politics has dominated previous WEF meetings on the Middle East the first annual meeting, held in Jordan in 2003, was billed as a summit of reconciliation for the post-Iraq war period this year the emphasis will be on economic rather than political performance, and the forum convenes under the optimistic theme of the promise of a new generation. The aim, says Sherif El-Diwany, WEFs director for the Middle East and North Africa, is to deliver a better future for the generations to come. Providing economic security and job opportunities for the people of the region has become an urgent priority, says El-Diwany.

For Schwab, that means, far reaching reforms are required. The quality of the national business environment must be enhanced. he thinks, leaders in the region are becoming more cognizant of the urgency for reform, realising the dangers and costs of inaction.

Policy-makers will have their hands full. Arab economies attract less than one per cent of global foreign direct investments, while inter-Arab trade cooperation is still in its infancy despite the activation of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area in 2005. Unemployment is growing, and the labour force in the Middle East and North Africa region is expected to reach 200 million within two decades. Even to maintain unemployment rates at present levels, tens of millions of jobs will need to be created, Schwab said. Of course, to actually bring unemployment rates down to more sustainable levels, job creation will have to be more ambitious, in excess of a 100 million new jobs between 2020-25. This is a huge challenge for policy-makers and the business community.

In an attempt to give some momentum to inter- Arab coordination the Arab Business Council will launch an Investment Taskforce Initiative during the forum, bringing together CEOs from the Arab region and their counterparts from China, India and the G8 to identify the matrix of impediments to investment in the Middle East.

But however tightly the organisers seek to script the event there will be no avoiding political questions, not when Iraq and the Middle East peace process are floundering, the spectre of conflict with Iran is looming large and advocates of political reform in Arab countries grow more vocal by the hour. Add to this the participation of high-profile Palestinian, Iraqi, US and Israeli delegations, and thorny political issues are bound to emerge.

The Lebanese president and prime minister, the Malaysian prime minister, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan are all scheduled to attend. Yet given the imminent arrival of so many global leaders, Sharm El-Sheikh is unexpectedly calm, and though the land route connecting Cairo to the Red Sea resort is punctuated by a multitude of checkpoints, with scrutiny of passengers identification papers growing as the distance to their destination diminishes, in Sharm itself it is business as usual.

Along the caf and restaurant strewn promenade the owners of businesses complement their finely-honed hospitality skills with even warmer smiles in an attempt to off-set the impact of last months suicide bombings in nearby Dahab. Nor is the security presence as overwhelming as might be expected.

A driver affiliated with one of the more luxurious of the towns resort complexes told Al-Ahram Weekly that life not only continues, but that residents and workers alike are increasingly determined to withstand the economic effects of the diminished numbers of tourists. Are we apprehensive about the forum coming so soon after the recent blasts? Not really. We are confident the city will be under complete control. There will be no one here except conference delegations and the press since they are basically closing the town to anyone else.

Holiday-makers confirm the drivers information. Tourists interviewed by the Weekly say it is impossible to book hotel rooms during the conference week. It would have been far more convenient for me to come next week, said one French tourist who was looking forward to experiencing Sharm El-Sheikhs world famous diving sites. Not a single hotel could confirm a booking except in the week preceding or following the conference.

Said Ezzeddin, Sharm El-Sheikh branch manager of Abercrombie & Kent, insists that tour companies received no instructions to halt reservations for the duration of the conference. It is simply that Sharm is fully booked, especially the more prestigious hotels.

The five-star hotels scheduled to host delegates are on high alert in preparation for the high-profile event, with increased numbers of security personnel busy ensuring no last minute glitches mar the global leaders discussions of Middle Eastern business affairs.

Additional reporting by

Mohamed Sabreen

Posted by South Sinai Travel: - 9:33 am - About SST South Sinai Travel is a comprehensive travel organization that handles travel arrangements commencing from the preliminary stages of creating itineraries to implementing them in the best possible way. South Sinai Travel is self-sufficient in that it has 5 fully operational offices in Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh. This means that all ground operations are conducted by South Sinai Travel personnel every step of the way, hence guaranteeing the most professional service.


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