Red Sea

Enter Qusseir

Qusseir, the oldest city on the Red Sea coast, is now being developed into an exclusive tourist resort.

Qusseir owes its importance to Muslim pilgrims, who for centuries used it as a departure point to the Arabian Peninsula. It is located 140km south of Hurghada on the Red Sea and 650 km southeast of Cairo and is famous for its picturesque landscape and historic harbor. Only in the last few years has Qusseir started to become known as a tourist resort with some deluxe tourist villages. Its attractions are similar to other Red Sea resorts: virgin beaches, coral reefs and untouched marine life. However, unlike other cities on the Red Sea, this one is not quite completely involved in tourism.

When touring Qusseir, the visitor sees a number of coffee shops, native clothing stores, a single supermarket and a small number of tourist bazaars selling imitation Pharaonic statuettes, scarves, glabbiyas and some gold items– a far cry from the Red Sea resort of Hurghada which is awash with tourist- related activities.

“At first people here have had no concept of tourism and we found it difficult to recruit workers for our tourist village,” said Safwat Badr, general manager of the Mövenpick Resort El Quseir, a five star hotel in Qusseir. “Now it is different. People have begun to understand that tourism is beneficial and among other things, will result in employment for a lot of people. Now we recruit 65 percent of our workers from Qusseir. The rest come from other governorates,” he explained.

Movenpick Resort El Qusseir, built on the traditional Nubia style

Movenpick Resort El Qusseir, built on the traditional Nubia style

Swimming facilities at Movenpick Resort El Quseir

Swimming facilities at Movenpick Resort El Quseir

The interiors of the resort

The interiors of the resort

Besides providing accommodation, the resort offers diverse recreational activities to its guests. One of these are shuttle tours of the old city.

One of the sites in the old city is the now restored Ottoman fortress, which has an interesting Visitors’ Center with displays of local history, archaeology and culture. Initially built to protect Ottoman land, it also housed Napoleon Bonaparte’s soldiers during the French Expedition whose task as to prevent supplies sent from the Arabian Peninsula from reaching the Mamelukes. A visitor can see the towers and the many tunnels used by the soldiers to hide from their enemies. “You know this tunnel ends in Luxor,” said a seven-year-old child playing inside the castle. “This is a widely-held myth, that these tunnels can lead you to places as far away as Luxor, Safaga and even Cairo,” said a passer-by who overheard the child.

A canon at the ancient Ottoman fortress

A canon at the ancient Ottoman fortress

Entrance to the fortress

Entrance to the fortress

Other interesting sites open to the public are the Farran Mosque, with its famous Ottoman minaret, and the police station, which was visited by Mohamed Ali Pasha on his trip to Qusseir in 1805. The police station is now the central police station in Qusseir.

The hotel also offers excursions to surrounding areas with experienced guides using jeeps, horses, camels and bicycles.

The land surrounding the hotel is picturesque: high mountains with different coloured strata, where fossil shells mingle with sand and rocks. Lakes and the phosphate mines can be visited, where ruins attest to the large community that once inhabited the area.

These phosphate mines were used by Italians in 1920, and it was they who built the settlement which included schools. Blackboards, as well as the villas of administrators and small worker houses beside the wells, can be seen by visitors. The railway lines, once used to transport phosphate, run through the hills and mountains.

The remenants of Italian influence add a romantic flavour to downtown Qusseir Photo: Pierre Loza

The remenants of Italian influence add a romantic flavour to downtown Qusseir Photo: Pierre Loza

A traditional gate of Qusseir houses

A traditional gate of Qusseir houses

Movenpick Resort El Quseir consists of spacious bungalows constructed in the traditional Nubian style, with facades of rough natural stone—a style intended to be followed by future tourist villages built here, to give the city a special character. “We are going to use local stone only because it is convenient and will give the area a special aura,” said Abuel Haggag Abdel Rehim, head of Qusseir’s City Council.

How to get there:

By air: Hurghada airport (120 kms north of Qusseir) or Luxor airport (220 kms west of Qusseir) or Marsa Alam airport (65 km south of Qusseir).

Accommodation:

Movenpick Resort El Quseir, http://www.moevenpick-hotels.com/en/africa/egypt/el-quseir/resort-el-quseir/overview/

Radisson Blu Resort El Quseir http://www.radissonblu.com/resort-elquseir

Flamenco Beach and Resort El Quseir http://www.flamencohotels.com/new/home.php

Akassia Swiss Hotel El Quseir http://www.akassia.com/

Fanadir Resort El Quseir http://www.fanadir-hotel.com/eng/index.htm

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Categories: Egypt, Red Sea, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Early bird breakfast

Ein El- Sukhna (Arabic name for water spring) in Suez governorate, 120 km east of Cairo, is one of my favourite destinations in Egypt. Lying on the western shore of the Red Sea’s Gulf of Suez, El-Sukhna is known for its wonderful stretched beaches and turquoise sea.  It is an attraction for travellers who can spend an over day or an overnight on its beaches and also for Egyptians who prefer to spend their weekend in a lovely place that is close to Cairo.

In my recent visit, I discovered another attraction, namely, El-Sukhna fauna. The moment the resort’s guests finished their breakfast at the terrace, a flock of birds landed on the tables and started to consume all the food. The scene was amazing as some of the birds were cutting the bread and others were helping in transportation. The waiters were just watching, as if they were expecting the arrival of the two- winged guests. Bon appetite!

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Categories: Egypt, Red Sea | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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