El-Arish, Sinai

Bedouin crafts, El-Arish, Sinai

The Sinai desert to the seaside village of El Arish just outside Rafah, where the Egyptian border with Gaza (about 30 miles from the Gaza Strip) lies on the Mediterranean coast at the mouth of the Wadi el-Arish, Sinai's largest river (dry for part of the year). El-Arish is a fishing port and a bedouin settlement with some recently established industries. El Arish is 344 kilometers (214 miles) northeast of Cairo.

The city sprung up around a Bedouin settlement in the vicinity of the ancient Ptolemaic Dynasty outpost of Rhinocolura. In the Middle Ages pilgrims misidentified the site as the Sukkot of the Bible. Arish means "palm huts" in Arabic corresponding to the Hebrew Sukkot. An increasingly popular tourist destination, El Arish is situated at 31°4'N, 33°50'E.El Arish is by a big wadi called the Wadi el Arish, which receives flash flood water from much of north and central Sinai.
el-arish, Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula itself though remains a rather neglected backwater, with the resources and the glitz going into Egypt's main cities on the other side of the Canal. The town of El Arish itself is not exactly bustling. Ahead of the main coastal town of the Sinai, El Arish, which was for centuries a stopover for the caravan route across the Middle East. The city also has some of the faculties of Suez Canal University. Enjoy shady palm-lined beaches, Mediterranean waves and the glowing colours of Bedouin crafts.

The city is served by El Arish International Airport. The airport is home to Palestinian Airlines however the airline has not been operational since 2000. It is the closest airport to the Gaza Strip. It is used mainly by Palestinian passengers traveling to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj Muslim pilgrimage. In El Arish you may stop at the Sinai Star Hotel situated in the midst of a shopping mall in a rundown street.

The El-Arish Museum draw visitors from Israel, with an easy passage from Eilat. Like the Cairo museums, this regional museums are also seen as an important part of Egypt's tourism infrastructure.

Rafah or Egyptian Rafah

Rafah or Egyptian Rafah is an important city in North Sinai and Egypt's eastern border settlement with Israel. Twenty-seven miles from El-Arish is the border town of Rafah. Notable is the changing geography, where rainfall begins to be notably heavier, and so vegetation begins to be far more lush. There are several Bedouin markets about, and apparently local leaders are attempting to introduce the area to tourism. The town marks the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip. It is the capital of Rafah Markaz in North Sinai Governorate, and is on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Egypt. In the Ancient Egyptian Language, the city was known as "Rapia".

The Rafah in the northeastern corner of Sinai, crossing is Gaza's only crossing point not fully controlled by Israel. Egypt has only opened the crossing sporadically since 2007 when Israel imposed a sweeping blockade on Gaza following Hamas' takeover of the territory. Egypt is at odds with Hamas, which is allied with the Egyptian opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood. Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza has long been a place where rhetoric and reality rarely meet eye to eye.

How to get there:

From outside Egypt

Many international flights now go direct to Sharm el-Sheikh, contact your travel agent for details.

From Cairo

Buses run by the East Delta Bus Company. Terminus in Abbassia.
Tel: +20-2-4824753 Fax: +20-2-2619784
Limousine cars: Tel: +20-2-2599813/1867/4

By air:
Egyptair: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: +20-2-5750600 (Cairo)
Sinai Air Company: Tel:+20-2-776893/760948 (Nile Hilton Hotel)
ZAS: Tel: +20-2-2918030 (Novotel, Cairo)

Last Updated on Friday 14th January 2011