Sinai is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, between the two northern gulfs of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba on the east and the Gulf of Suez on the west. The Sinai Peninsula or simply Sinai is a triangular peninsula, with each side measuring about 200 mi. (320 km.) and about 60,000 km (23,000 sq mi) in area.
Sinai is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia, as opposed to Africa, serving as a land bridge between two continents. Most of Egypt’s territory of 1,010,408 square kilometres (390,000 sq mi) lies within the Nile Valley. Historically, the importance of the Sinai Peninsula has always been a result of its character as an area of transit from Asia to Africa and vice-versa.
The peninsula consists of three main regions, each different in its geographical aspects. In the north is a sandy coastal plateau, partly traversed by dunes 20 mi. (32 km.) deep, which reach a height of 60–90 ft. (c. 18–27 m.), but which are passable in a northeast-southeast direction. A few wells of brackish water and palm groves in oases make the passage of this region easier. The sandy areas are narrow on the east, but expand into the desert of al-Jifār (the desert of Shur) on the west. The second zone is a limestone plateau intersected by valleys and ridges and known as Badivat al-Tīh. Its northern limit is formed by a series of mountains, including, from west to east, Jebel al-Jiddī (2,058 ft.), Jebel Yaʿallaq (3,200 ft.) and Jebel Halāl (or Ḥalāl; 2,714 ft.). South of these mountains, whitish limestone cliffs rise in a line of sheer precipices from the gravel-strewn surface of the ground. The Tīh desert extends eastward into the area around Kadesh, and westward up to the Suez region. Its sandy and rocky ground contains few watering points. The southernmost region of the Sinai Peninsula consists of a group of granite mountains intersected by deep wadis and their tributaries, between which rise rocky massifs with high pinnacles and deep gorges. The outstanding peaks in this area are Jebel Katerina (8,652 ft.), Jebel Mūsā, the traditional Mt. Sinai (7,486 ft.) and Jebel Sirbāl (6,791 ft.). The waters flowing from these snow-clad peaks in the winter have created several oases, the most important one being the central oasis of Fīrān (Paran). The mountain range of the south extends northward along the west coast; this part is rich in copper and turquoise, the greatest concentration of which exists at Sarābīṭ al-Khādim. West of it, the plain of al-Marḥa (Markha; Sin, Wildernes) follows the west coast.
Sinai was from earliest times traversed by a series of roads running from west to east, of which the three most important are a) the coastal road, known in the Bible as the “way of the land of the Philistines,” which runs from the vicinity of Pelusium to Gaza, passing from one well to another; it is the shortest and most frequented route; b) the road which crosses the Tīh desert from Ismailia on the Suez Canal by way of Biʾr Jafjafa (or Gafgafa) and Biʾr al-Ḥamma to Abu Aweigila and to Niẓẓanah (ʾAwjā al-Ḥafīr); c) the Darb al-Ḥajj (“route of the pilgrimage” to Mecca from Egypt), which crosses the southern part of the Tīh desert by way of Qalʿat al-Nakhl and Biʾr al-Thamad, and by way of al-Kuntilla descends the Raʾs al-Naqb to Eilat. The less important north-south routes are, in the east, the road along the Wadi el-Arish (Brook of Egypt) by way of Kadesh-Barnea (ʿAyn al-Qudayrāt) and al-Qusei’ma to Kuntilla and, in the west, a road which follows the west coast to al-Ṭūr and Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of the peninsula. Side roads lead from the latter road to the copper mines at Ṣarābīṭ al-Khādim and to Jebel Mūsā by way of Wadi Fīrān.
Evidence of settlement in this area begins with the Paleolithic Age, at which time Sinai was not yet a desert. In the Chalcolithic period it apparently served as a link between pre-dynastic Egypt and the settlements around Beersheba in Canaan. In the time of the early dynastic period in Egypt, expeditions were sent from the Nile Valley to exploit the copper mines, as Egypt itself had no metals; the presence of a serekh (hieroglyph) of Pharaoh Narmer at Tel Erani and a walled city, perhaps a symbol of Canaan, represented on the Narmer palette (from Hierankonopolis), show that the pharaonic armies were already traversing the peninsula at the beginning of the First Dynasty. In the Middle Bronze Age, the period of the Patriarchs, Sinai was relatively more densely settled than at later stages in its history; it was crossed by Abraham and Jacob on their way to Egypt. Later, it was traversed by the Hyksos invaders of Egypt. In their wake, the desert was occupied by nomadic tribes, related to Ishmael in the Bible (Gen. 25:17–18); the Egyptians referred to them collectively as Shasu. After the expulsion of the Hyksos (16th century B.C.E.), the pharaohs took steps to secure their kingdom by building a wall (shur) across the western end of the peninsula and by establishing a chain of forts along the coastal road to secure the watering points.
It was during the New Kingdom that Sinai acquired its biblical fame. In the Bible, the desert of Sinai is situated between Rephidim and Mt. Sinai, with the wilderness of Sin between it and Elim (Ex. 16:1; 19:1–2). According to Numbers 33:15–16, it lay between Rephidim and Kibroth-Hattaavah and in Numbers 10:12, the wilderness of Paran is situated to the east of it. Mt. Sinai eclipsed the desert of Sinai in later literature as the identification of the place where the Law was given to Israel (Deut. 33:2; Judg. 5:5; Ps. 68:8, 18; Neh. 9:13). The identification of Mt. Sinai, and by implication that of the desert of Sinai, depends on the view taken of the route of the Exodus (see *Exodus); the traditional theory places Mt. Sinai at Jebel Mūsā, while others place it at Jebel Halāl (or Ḥalāl), or even in the Arabian Peninsula. The last identification is supported by the assumed connection between Sinai and the moon god, Sin. During the period of the Exodus, the desert was occupied by the Amalekites, who disputed the passage of the Israelites at Rephidim. The Egyptians left the desert nomads alone, while keeping control of the coastal road and the copper and turquoise mines at Ṣarābīṭ al-Khādim (Dophkah?). The beginnings of an alphabetic Semitic script, the so-called proto-Sinaitic alphabet, are evident in the inscriptions written by slaves who worked in the mines. In the period of the monarchy, Saul and David fought the Amalekites (I Sam. 15:7, 27:8) and controlled northwest Sinai. The nomads of the region helped in Esarhaddon’s campaign against Egypt, although some served as mercenaries in the Egyptian army. Later, they brought water to the army of Cambyses of Persia during his invasion of the Nile Valley; in return, the Persians allowed the kings of Kedar (the predecessors of the Nabateans) to maintain harbors on the coast of Sinai, between the Serbonic Lake and Ienysos, south of Gaza.
In Hellenistic and Roman times, the interior of Sinai was left to the Nabateans as part of Arabia Petrea; only the coastal road was controlled by the Ptolemies and later by the Romans. After annexation of Nabatea by the Romans, it was regarded as part of Provincia Arabia, and after Diocletian, as part of Palestina Tertia (Salutaris). In the Byzantine period, the biblical associations with the region led to an increase in trade and pilgrimages across the desert. Justinian built a fortified monastery near Jebel Mūsā (Mount Sinai) and a bishopric was established at Paran. A chapel was constructed on the top of Jebel Mūsā. Ephrem the Syrian in one of his hymns (CSCO 323, 71–73) compares Mount Sinai to the Old Testament and the church on the mountain’s summit to the New Testament, indicating that he viewed the church as a symbol of the ascendancy of Christianity over Judaism. Sinai was largely left to the Bedouin in Islamic and medieval times, until the excavation of the Suez Canal on the west increased its importance.
A Zionist plan, in *Herzl’s time (1902), to settle the El-Arish area (then under British administration as part of the British protectorate of Egypt), as a prelude to Jewish settlement in Eretẓ Israel (see *El-Arish Project), proved abortive. A border dispute between Britain and Turkey led, in 1906, to the final demarcation of a border line between the British protectorate and the *Ottoman Empire running from Rafa to Taba south of Akaba. This line was crossed during World War I by Turkish forces, which attacked the Suez Canal, and then by the British army, which conquered Palestine. The same line became the international boundary of Egypt and Mandatory Palestine. For several years after the war, Sinai formed a separate British administrative unit under Major C.S. Jarvis.
During Israel’s *War of Independence (1948–49), the Israeli army, in pursuit of the retreating Egyptian forces, crossed the line and occupied eastern Sinai but was forced to withdraw unconditionally under political pressure from the United States and threats of British military intervention. In the *Sinai Campaign in 1956, the Egyptian army was routed by the Israeli army, which occupied the entire peninsula except for a strip along the Suez Canal. In 1957, Israel was again forced, mainly by the United States and the Soviet Union, to withdraw behind the armistice lines of 1949 without achieving a peace treaty with Egypt. The rapid aggressive buildup of huge Egyptian forces in Sinai in May 1967 was a major factor leading to the Six-Day War, when the whole of Sinai, up to the Suez Canal, was occupied by Israel. At the end of 1967 a census was conducted in northern Sinai and 33,800 Arabs and Bedouin were registered, 30,000 in El-Arish alone. After the Six-Day War the Israel military administration carried out a series of economic development projects, e.g., helping to erect factories in El-Arish; introducing better medical and educational services for the local population, including the Bedouin; and paving a modern highway from Eilat along the western coast of the gulf to Sharm el-Sheikh. Extensive geological and archeological surveys of the entire peninsula were carried out by Israeli scientists and experts. In the wake of the Yom Kippur War, Israel withdrew inland from the Suez Canal following the 1974 disengagement agreement and the 1975 interim agreement, returning the Abu Rudeis oil fields to Egypt and allowing it to reopen the Suez Canal.
In the meanwhile Jewish settlement activity had commenced in the Rafa Salient (Pitḥat Rafi’aḥ) in the northeast corner of Sinai, including the town of *Yammit, which had grown to 2,000 inhabitants by 1977, with another 2,000 in the surrounding settlements. These were abandoned in stages in accordance with the peace treaty signed with Egypt in 1979, in which Israel agreed to withdraw from all of Sinai by 1982, including the Yammit Region, whose settlements were razed.
Although the name “Sinai” is mentioned in the Bible various times (Exodus 16, I and Exodus 19, I), it is still unclear, where it originally comes from. One theory, however, is that it might derive from the word “sin”, which is the name of an ancient god of the moon.
2 Mil. Years The land extention of Sinai, Egypt, and Sauri Arabia has almost been one part. Enormous ravages reformed this area soon apon and left Sinai as a peninsular right between Egypt and the Arabian peninsular.
30.000 BC Prove of probably the oldest settlement, found in the north of Sinai.
3100 BC The Egyptian history of dynasties begins the way we know it today. From what we got handed down, this was the date of the first dynasty, where Menes unites two kingdoms in Egypt.
2500 BC A heterogeneous nomadic horde from western Asia (called Hyksos) crossed Sinai to invade Egypt. Throughout the Hyksos’s occupation there was no Egyptian activity found in the mines and quarries of Sinai.
According to the Biblical, Moses was wandering for many decades in the region of Sinai. It is believed that – leading approx. half a million Israelites – at Mount Sinai God spoke to Moses. This is also the place that has drawn pilgrims for more than a thousand years.
332 BC Troops of Alexander the Great marched through Sinai in order to conquer Egypt.
Virgin Mary with her child Jesus Christ crossed Sinai escaping from and coming back to Palestine.
~550 St. Catherine’s Monastery was constructed by order of the Emperor Justinian
1050 the Arabs invaded Egypt and penetrated Sinai, where most of the inhabitants were converted into Islam.
1182 Salah El Din marched with troups across Sinai, entering Transjordan by the route of Aqaba.
1517 The turkish Sultan Selim invaded Egypt via the coast of Sinai. He built fortresses, filled them with Moorish soldiers, who to protect pilgrims. In Acaba there are still descendants of this race nowadays.
1858 Saed Pasha established a quarantine for pilgrims in Tour city.
The Suez Canal – between the Mediterranian Sea and the Gulf of Suez is being opened with a length of 195 km.
Excavation and digging for petrol started. In 1921, petrol was finally discovered close to Abu Doria.
First Arab-Israel War, including Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.
As a reaction of the Suez crisis and in coordination with the British and French military, Israel is occupying Sinai. In the same year (end of war), the UDSSR and the USA are forcing Israel to return Sinai’s territory to Egyptian control.
Six-Day-War, an attack from Israel against Egypt on June 5th to June 11th. By the end of this war Sinai is under Israeli control.
1973 6th October War (also Yom Kippur War), lead by Egypt and Syria against Israel. Disengagement agreements finally leaves Egypt with parts of the East Bank of the Suez Canal, a zone stretching only a couple of kilometers into Sinai.
1979 Peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, forcing Israel to withdraw military forces as well as disengaging settlements from Sinai until 1982.
1982 Israel finishes the Sinai withdrawal process. Multinational Force Observers are installed to secure protection from Israeli or Egyptian military activities.
1983 Ras Mohamed as the first and only Egyptian National Park was declared with an area of 97km². Since then it has been extended to 480km² and includes marine and terrestrial areas (also on Tiran Island).
1989 March 15th: the small town of Taba, next to the Israeli border, is being handed over to Egypt. Before this, Egypt and Israel had tough negotiations throughout years, since Israel saw the peace agreement of 1979 as not including Taba.
Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1517, after which it became a province of the Ottoman Empire. The defensive militarisation damaged its civil society and economic institutions. The weakening of the economic system combined with the effects of plague left Egypt vulnerable to foreign invasion. Portuguese traders took over their trade. Between 1687 and 1731, Egypt experienced six famines. The 1784 famine cost it roughly one-sixth of its population.
Egypt was always a difficult province for the Ottoman Sultans to control, due in part to the continuing power and influence of the Mamluks, the Egyptian military caste who had ruled the country for centuries.
Napoleon defeated Mamluk troops in the Battle of the Pyramids, 21 July 1798, painted by Lejeune.
Egypt remained semi-autonomous under the Mamluks until it was invaded by the French forces of Napoleon I in 1798 (see French campaign in Egypt and Syria). After the French were defeated by the British, a power vacuum was created in Egypt, and a three-way power struggle ensued between the Ottoman Turks, Egyptian Mamluks who had ruled Egypt for centuries, and Albanian mercenaries in the service of the Ottomans.
1260-1517: the peninsula was governed as part of Egypt under the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt
1517: the Ottoman Sultan, Selim the Grim, defeated the Egyptians at the Battles of Marj Dabiq and al-Raydaniyya, and incorporated Egypt into the Ottoman Empire
1517-1906: Sinai was administered by the Ottoman provincial government of the Pashalik of Egypt, even following the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty’s rule over the rest of Egypt in 1805
1882: United Kingdom occupied and largely controlled Egypt
1906: the Ottoman Porte formally transferred administration of Sinai to the Egyptian government, which essentially meant that it fell under the control of the United Kingdom
At the beginning of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Egyptian forces entered the former British Mandate of Palestine from Sinai to support Palestinian and other Arab forces against the newly declared State of Israel. For a period during the war, Israeli forces entered the north-eastern corner of Sinai. With the exception of Palestine’s Gaza Strip, which came under the administration of the All-Palestine Government, the western frontier of the former Mandate of Palestine became the Egyptian-Israeli frontier under the 1949 Armistice Agreement. In 1958, the Gaza Strip came under direct Egyptian military administration, though it was governed separately from Sinai, and was never annexed by Egypt. The Egyptian government maintained that Egyptian administration would be terminated upon the end of the conflict with Israel.
In 1956, Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal, a waterway marking the boundary between Egyptian territory in Africa and the Sinai Peninsula. Thereafter, Israeli ships were prohibited from using the Canal, owing to the state of war between the two states. Egypt also prohibited ships from using Egyptian territorial waters on the eastern side of the peninsula to travel to and from Israel, effectively imposing a blockade on the Israeli port of Eilat. Subsequently, in what is known in Egypt as the Tripartite Aggression, Israeli forces, aided by Britain, and France (which sought to reverse the nationalisation and regain control over the Suez Canal), invaded Sinai and occupied much of the peninsula within a few days. Several months later Israel withdrew its forces from Sinai, following strong pressure from the United States and the Soviet Union. Thereafter, the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was stationed in Sinai to prevent any further conflict in the Sinai.
In 1967, Egypt reinforced its military presence in Sinai and on 16 May ordered the UNEF out of Sinai with immediate effect. Secretary-General U Thant eventually complied and ordered the withdrawal without Security Council authorisation. In the course of the Six-Day War that broke out shortly thereafter, Israel captured the entire Sinai Peninsula, and Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan (which it had ruled since 1949), and the Golan Heights from Syria. The Suez Canal, the east bank of which was now occupied by Israel, was closed. Israel commenced efforts at large scale Israeli settlement in the peninsula.
Following the Israeli conquest of Sinai, Egypt launched the War of Attrition (1967–70) aimed at forcing Israel to withdraw from Egyptian territory. The war saw protracted conflict in the Suez Canal Zone, ranging from limited to large scale combat. Israeli shelling of the cities of Port Said, Ismailia, and Suez on the west bank of the canal, led to high civilian casualties (including the virtual destruction of Suez), and contributed to the flight of 700,000 Egyptian internal refugees. Ultimately, the war concluded in 1970 with no change in the front line.
On 6 October 1973, Egypt commenced Operation Badr to retake the Sinai, while Syria launched a simultaneous operation to retake the Golan Heights, thereby beginning the Yom Kippur War (known in Egypt as the October War). Egyptian engineering forces built pontoon bridges to cross the Suez Canal, and stormed the Bar-Lev Line, Israel’s defensive line along the canal. Though the Egyptians maintained control of most of the east bank of the Canal, in the later stages of the war, the Israeli military crossed the southern section of Canal, cutting off the Egyptian 3rd Army, and occupied a section of the west bank. The war ended following a mutually agreed-upon ceasefire. After the war, as part of the subsequent Sinai Disengagement Agreements, Israel withdrew from the Canal, with Egypt agreeing to permit passage of Israeli ships. The canal was reopened in 1975, with President Sadat leading the first convoy through the canal aboard an Egyptian destroyer.
In 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in which Israel agreed to withdraw from the entirety of Sinai. Israel subsequently withdrew in several stages, ending in 1982. The Israeli pull-out involved dismantling almost all Israeli settlements, including the settlement of Yamit in north-eastern Sinai. The exception was the coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh, which the Israelis had founded as Ofira during the period of their occupation. The Treaty allows monitoring of Sinai by the Multinational Force and Observers, and limits the number of Egyptian military forces in the peninsula.
The Sinai Peninsula has remained a part of Egypt from the First Dynasty of ancient Egypt (c. 3100 BC) until the 21st century. This comes in stark contrast to the region north of it, the Levant (present-day territories of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories), which, due largely to its strategic geopolitical location and evolutionary cultural convergences, has historically been the centre of conflict between Egypt on the one hand, and one or the other of the states of ancient and medieval Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. In periods of foreign occupation, the Sinai was, like the rest of Egypt, also occupied and controlled by foreign empires, in more recent history the Ottoman Empire (1517-1867) and the United Kingdom (1882-1956). Israel invaded and occupied Sinai during the Suez Crisis (known in Egypt as the Tripartite Aggression due to the simultaneous coordinated attack by the UK, France and Israel) of 1956, and during the Six-Day War of 1967. On 6 October 1973, Egypt launched the Yom Kippur War to retake the peninsula, which was the site of fierce fighting between Egyptian and Israeli forces. By 1982, as a result of the 1973 war and the ensuing Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979, Israel had withdrawn from all of the Sinai Peninsula except the contentious territory of Taba, which was returned after a ruling by a commission of arbitration in 1989.
Today, Sinai has become a tourist destination due to its natural setting, rich coral reefs, and biblical history. Mount Sinai is one of the most religiously significant places in Abrahamic faiths.
The name Sinai may have been derived from the ancient moon-god Sin or from the Hebrew word Seneh (Hebrew: סֶ֫נֶּה Senneh) The peninsula acquired the name due to the assumption that a mountain near Saint Catherine’s Monastery is the Biblical Mount Sinai. However this assumption is contested.
The peninsula’s eastern shore separates the Arabian plate from the African plate. Sinai is triangular in shape, with northern shore lying on the southern Mediteranean Sea, and southwest and southeast shores on Gulf of Suez and Gulf of Aqaba of the Red Sea. It is linked to the African continent by the Isthmus of Suez, 125 kilometres (78 mi) wide strip of land, containing the Suez Canal. The eastern isthmus, linking it to the Asian mainland, is around 200 kilometres (120 mi) wide.
The southernmost tip is the Ras Muhammad National Park.
Most of the Sinai Peninsula is divided among the two governorates of Egypt: South Sinai (Ganub Sina) and North Sinai (Shamal Sina). Together, they comprise around 60,000 square kilometres (23,000 sq mi) and have a population (January 2013) of 597,000. Three more governates span the Suez Canal, crossing into African Egypt: Suez (el-Sewais) is on the southern end of the Suez Canal, Ismailia (el-Isma’ileyyah) in the centre, and Port Said in the north.
The largest city of Sinai is Arish, capital of the North Sinai, with around 160,000 residents. Other larger settlements include Sharm el-Sheikh and El-Tor, on the southern coast. Inland Sinai is arid, mountainous and sparsely populated, the largest settlements being Saint Catherine and Nekhel.
Sinai is one of the coldest provinces in Egypt because of its high altitudes and mountainous topographies. Winter temperatures in some of Sinai’s cities and towns reach −16 °C (3 °F).
Sinai was called Mafkat or “country of turquoise” by the ancient Egyptians, who called its inhabitants Monitu. From the time of the First Dynasty or before, the Egyptians mined turquoise in Sinai at two locations, now called by their Egyptian Arabic names Wadi Magharah and Serabit El Khadim. The mines were worked intermittently and on a seasonal basis for thousands of years. Modern attempts to exploit the deposits have been unprofitable. These may be the first historically attested mines.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the peninsula was crossed by the Israelites during the Exodus from Egypt. It has been commonly believed that this included numerous halts over a 40-year period of travel sometime towards the end of the Bronze Age. However, recent discoveries  by an amateur archaeologist (Ron Wyatt, of Ron Wyatt Archaeology, now deceased) show that the numerous stops which were made by the Hebrews during their sojourn in the Wilderness were not made in the Sinai Peninsula but were, instead, in the Arabian Peninsula which is where Mt. Sinai is located. Their crossing of the Red Sea occurred at a place called Nueva, a large beach which can be seen from the ISS, where an underwater landbridge has been discovered. This landbridge facilitated the crossing of the “Sea of Reeds” which is what this arm of the Red Sea at that time was called. Though the historicity of the event is disputed and its date varies in Jewish traditions the evidence recently discovered prove that the event did actually occur at the location described above.
Cambyses successfully managed the crossing of the hostile Sinai Desert, traditionally Egypt’s first and strongest line of defence, and brought the Egyptians under Psamtik III, son and successor of Ahmose, to battle at Pelusium. The Egyptians lost and retired to Memphis; the city fell to the Iranian control and the Pharaoh was carried off in captivity to Susa in mainland Iran.
In recent years, Sinai has been the site of several terror attacks against tourists, the majority of whom are Egyptian. Investigations have shown that these were mainly motivated by a resentment of the poverty faced by many Bedouin in the area. Attacking the tourist industry was viewed as a method of damaging the industry so that the government would pay more attention to their situation. (See 2004 Sinai bombings, Sharm el-Sheikh terrorist attacks and 2006 Dahab bombings). Since the 2011 Egyptian Revolution unrest has become more prevalent in the area including the 2012 Egyptian-Israeli border attack in which 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed by militants. (See Sinai insurgency).
Also on the rise are kidnappings of refugees. According to Meron Estifanos, Eritrean refugees are often kidnapped by Bedouin in the northern Sinai, tortured, raped, and only released after receiving a large ransom.
The two governorates of North and South Sinai and have a total population of 597,000 (January 2013). This figure rises to 1,400,000 by including Western Sinai, the parts of the Port Said, Ismailia and Suez Governorates lying east of the Suez Canal. Port Said alone has a population of roughly 500,000 people (January 2013). Portions of the populations of Ismailia and Port Said live in west Sinai, while the rest live on the western side of the Suez Canal.
Population of Sinai has largely consisted of desert-dwelling Bedouins with their colourful traditional costumes and significant culture. Large numbers of Egyptians from the Nile Valley and Delta moved to the area to work in tourism, but development adversely affected the native Bedouin population. In order to help alleviate their problems, various NGOs began to operate in the region, including the Makhad Trust, a UK charity that assists the Bedouin in developing a sustainable income while protecting Sinai’s natural environment, heritage and culture.
Since the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Sinai’s scenic spots (including coral reefs offshore) and religious structures have become important to the tourism industry. The most popular tourist destination in Sinai are Mount Sinai (Jabal Musa) and St Catherine’s Monastery, which is considered to be the oldest working Christian monastery in the world, and the beach resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba. Most tourists arrive at Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, through Eilat, Israel and the Taba Border Crossing, by road from Cairo or by ferry from Aqaba in Jordan