Author's Department

Sociology, Egyptology & Anthropology Department

Document Type

News Article

Publication Title

Astene Bulletin: Association for the Study of Travel in Egypt and the Near East

Publication Date



Since Late Antiquity, South Sinai has been anattraction or travellers. For centuries, the fortune the region had laid in its holy character for both Christianity and Islam. It is only in the 19thcentury that other motivations arose and what wasa traditional pilgrimage turned often into leisure travel. In the words of Joseph Hobbs: “All who travelled overland to Mount Sinai emphasized the hazards along the way. From the early 19th century such obstacles became an attraction in themselves, a reason to travel.” 1 The main difference between pilgrims and travellers was the motivation: “Pilgrimage formost was necessity, penance, exile, suffering in unpleasant lands; travel for most was choice, leisure, participation, and acceptable discomfort in enchanting places.” According to this definition, travellers and tourist were not very different either, but “tourism is a mass phenomenon while nineteenth- and early twentieth-century travel involved movement of small numbers of people.” Since the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict, tourism in Sinai has completely changed: Jabal Musa still being an attraction for a Sinai journey, the sea-side locations on the east coast such as Nuwayba, Taba, Dahab, and Sharm al-Shaykh have become among the most successful vacation destinations the world. One travels to South Sinai for its sandy beaches and pristine coral reefs, and only as a second instance gets a chance to visit the holy places on a one-day trip.