Sunrise from summit of Mt. Sinai – some say “God’s Mountain”. The peninsula offers more than just pristine beaches.
Following Egypt’s recent revolution resulting in the Mubarek family being ousted from power, the country’s lucrative tourism industry has been struggling to find ways to entice foreign tourists to return. One Egyptian Hisham Nessim, a businessman and mountain climbing enthusiast, is trying to promote mountain climbing tourism adventures to one of the most historical places on earth: the mountain ranges of the Sinai Peninsula – sometimes known as God’s Mountain. No one is exactly sure where the mountain that Moses climbed to return with the 10 Commandments is, but some believe it is in this mountain range. While Israelis and other foreigners, including many Scandinavians would travel to Sinai for its vistas and laid-back eco-tourism (and toilets!), tourists have been staying away for fear of terrorism threats. Would a climb up God’s Mountain lure them back?
Nessim (left) has captured two Guinness World Records for mountain climbing feats. He is now planning an attempt to climb the peninsula’s highest peak, 1,800 meter Mt. Al-Ajmah, alone. The climbing feat, reported in the English version of the ahramonline news website, hopes to help create interest in the Sinai as a tourism site, as well as regenerate the tourism industry in Egypt as a whole.
According to Egypt’s Tourism Minister, Mounir Fakhri Abdel Nour, the country has lost around $1.5 billion from tourism revenues since the outbreak of the January 25 Revolution. The minister added that Egypt’s image as a tourist destination could be boosted if tourists felt they would be safe while touring in Egypt.
The climbing event will be aimed to target Arab tourism to Egypt, particularly during holidays such as Ramadan. It will include the planting of 2,500 olive trees in various parts of the Sinai.
Anyone who has had the experience to visit the rugged and beautiful mountain regions of the Sinai, which includes such historic locations as Mt. Sinai (Jebel Musa), will agree that seeing this area is a truly unique experience.
I had this opportunity years ago, which included hiking to the top of Mt. Sinai (a nearly 3 hour climb beginning at 2 am in the morning) and seeing the sunrise from the summit. My trip also included a guided tour of the Santa Katarina Monastery, a Greek Orthodox shrine that has been continuously inhabited by Greek Orthodox monks for over 1,400 years. The tour to the monastery included a visit to its burial ossuary, also known as Skull House, in which the remains of deceased monks have been stored together, including their skulls piled together in one room.
Santa Katarina Monastery
The climbing event on Mt. Al-Ajmah is being organized by Sami Suleiman, Chairman of the Egypt Tourism Association. Suleiman hopes that the event will help regenerate tourism to the country, including the Sinai, where its Red Sea coastline has long been a major tourist attraction with a “quaintness” of its own.
Following the recent banning of sport fishing off the southern Sinai coasts, Nessim and Suleiman want to show prospective tourists that there is more to see and do in the Sinai than just visiting pristine beaches.
Read more on Egypt and the Sinai:
Climbing God’s Mountain in Sinai
Sinai Governor Bans all Sport Fishing in Southern Sinai
Praising the Middle East Squat Toilet in Sinai
Horses: the Silent Victims of Egypt’s Revolution
Sunrise Photos: Wikipedia.org