Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh is an Egyptian city on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, in South Sinai Governorate, on the coastal strip along the Red Sea. Its population is 73,000 as of 2015. Sharm El Sheikh is the administrative hub of Egypt's South Sinai Governorate, which includes the smaller coastal towns of Dahab and Nuweiba as well as the mountainous interior, St. Catherine and Mount Sinai; the city and holiday resort is a significant centre for tourism in Egypt, while attracting many international conferences and diplomatic meetings. Sharm El Sheikh is known as the "City of Peace, it was known as Şarm-üş Şeyh during Ottoman rule, as Ofira during Israeli occupation of the Egyptian territory between 1967 and 1982. Among Egyptians and many visitors, the name of the city is shortened to "Sharm", its common name in the Egyptian slang; the name is sometimes written as Sharm el-Cheikh, Sharm el-Sheik in English. Sharm El Sheikh is on a promontory overlooking the Straits of Tiran at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba.
Its strategic importance led to its transformation from a fishing village into a major port and naval base for the Egyptian Navy. It was occupied by Israel during the Suez Crisis of 1956 and restored to Egypt in 1957. A United Nations peacekeeping force was subsequently stationed there until the 1967 Six-Day War when it was recaptured by Israel. Sharm El Sheikh remained under Israeli control until the Sinai peninsula was restored again to Egypt in 1982 after the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty of 1979. A hierarchical planning approach was adopted for the Gulf of Aqaba, whereby their components were evaluated and subdivided into zones and centers. In accordance with this approach, the Gulf of Aqaba zone was subdivided into four cities: Taba, Nuweiba and Sharm El Sheikh. Sharm El Sheikh city has been subdivided into five homogeneous centers, namely Nabq, Ras Nusrani, Naama Bay, Umm Sid and Sharm El Maya. Sharm El Sheikh city, together with Naama Bay, Hay el Nour, Rowaysat and Shark's Bay form a metropolitan area.
Before 1967, Sharm El Sheikh was little more than an occasional base of operations for local fishermen. Commercial development of the area began when the Israelis built the town of Ofira, overlooking Sharm El Maya Bay and the Nesima area, opened the first tourist-oriented establishments in the area 6km north at Naama Bay; these included a marina hotel on the southern side of the bay, a nature field school on the northern side, diving clubs, a now well-known promenade, the Naama Bay Hotel. The site off the shore gun emplacements at Ras Nasrani opposite Tiran Island is now a diving area. After Sinai was restored to Egypt in 1982, the Egyptian government embarked on an initiative to encourage the continued development of the city, now an international tourist destination. Foreign investors – some of whom had discovered the potential of the locality during the Israeli occupation – contributed to a spate of building projects. Environmental zoning laws limit the height of buildings in Sharm El Sheikh so as to avoid obscuring the natural beauty of the surroundings.
In 2005, the resort was hit by the Sharm El Sheikh terrorist attacks, which were perpetrated by an extremist Islamist organisation targeting Egypt's tourist industry. Eighty-eight people were killed, the majority of them Egyptians, over 200 were wounded by the attack, making it the second deadliest terrorist attack in the country's history; the deadliest terrorist attack took place in Sinai when Militants detonated a bomb inside a crowded mosque in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday and sprayed gunfire on panicked worshipers as they fled, killing at least 305 people and wounding at least 128 others.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/world/middleeast/mosque-attack-egypt.html The third deadliest was the Luxor massacre of 1997). The city has played host to a number of important Middle Eastern peace conferences, including the 4 September 1999 agreement to restore Palestinian self-rule over the Gaza Strip. A second summit was held at Sharm on 17 October 2000 following the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, but it failed to end the violence.
A summit was held in the city on 3 August 2005 on developments in the Arab world, such as the situation in the Arab–Israeli conflict. Again in 2007, an important ministerial meeting took place in Sharm, where dignitaries discussed Iraqi reconstruction; the World Economic Forum on the Middle East was hosted by Sharm el-Sheikh in 2006 and 2008. Amidst the 2011 Egyptian protests, President Hosni Mubarak went to Sharm El Sheikh and resigned there on 11 February 2011; the city experiences a subtropical arid climate, classified by the Köppen-Geiger system as hot desert. Temperatures are just short of a tropical climate. Typical temperatures range from 18 to 23 °C in January and 33 to 37 °C in August; the temperature of the Red Sea in this region ranges from 21 to 28 °C over the course of the year. Marsa Alam and Sharm El Sheikh have the warmest winter night temperatures of cities and resorts in Egypt; the highest recorded temperature was 46 °C on June 2, 2013, the lowest recorded temperature was 5 °C on February 23, 2000.
Sharm El Sheikh was a port, but commercial shipping has been reduced as the result of strict environmental laws introduced in the 1990s. Until 1982, there was only a military port in Sharm El Sheikh, on the northern part of Marsa Barek
Dahab is a small town on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt 80 km northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh. A Bedouin fishing village, Dahab is now considered to be one of Sinai's most treasured diving destinations. Following the Six-Day War, Sinai was occupied by Israel and Dahab became known as Di-Zahav, after a place mentioned in the Bible as one of the stations for the Israelites during the Exodus from Egypt; the Sinai Peninsula was restored to Egyptian rule under the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty in 1982. The arrival of international hotel chains and the establishment of other ancillary facilities has since made the town a popular destination with tourists. Dahab is served by Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport. Masbat is a popular diving destination, there are many dive centers located within Dahab. Most of Dahab's diving spots are shore dives. Dahab can be divided into three major parts. Masbat, which includes the Bedouin village Asalah, is in the north. South of Masbat is Mashraba, more touristic and has more hotels.
In the southwest is Medina which includes the Laguna area, famous for its excellent shallow-water windsurfing. The region of Asalah has many camps and hostels. Most people who have visited Dahab in the past were backpackers interested in diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea. Dahab was a small Bedouin fishing village. Located next to the seashore, lies an excavated trade port, once inhabited by the Nabataean Kingdom. In the 1960s, hippies drew to its crystal-clear waters, but Egypt's wars with Israel ended any further development until the early 1980s, when the Sinai was restored to Egypt and Dahab turned into a hippie hangout. The hotel chains moved in and by the 1990s, the town became a centre for scuba diving and a popular place for windsurfing. On April 24th 2006, a series of explosions rocked parts of tourist areas in Dahab, killing 23 people. Dahab attracts large numbers of tourists, it is world-renowned for its windsurfing. Reliable winds provide superb flat-water conditions inside Dahab's sand spit.
Further away from shore, wavy conditions couple with strong winds to provide formidable conditions for keen windsurfers. However, in recent years, the lagoon inside the sand spit has been overtaken by kitesurfers, with two Russian-owned schools opening right on the beach. SCUBA diving, free-diving and snorkelling are popular activities with many reefs adjacent to waterfront hotels; the nearby Blue Hole and Canyon are internationally famous dive spots. The increasing destruction of coral from reckless divers/dive centres diving is a pressing issue, causing some worry, sparking the need to regulate dive centres more thoroughly. Land-based activities include camel riding, horse riding, mountain biking trips and quad bike trips. Mount Sinai is a two-hours drive, with Saint Catherine's Monastery being a popular tourist destination. Most visitors to Dahab have been backpackers travelling independently and staying in hostels, motels or guesthouses in the Masbat area. In recent years, development of hotels in the Medina area has facilitated the arrival of a wider range of tourists, many of whom visit Dahab to partake in the surfing, diving, kite surfing and other activities.
The word Dahab is Egyptian Arabic for gold and is a reference to the geographic locality. The name may be a reference to the colour of the sands to the south of the town itself; some locals attribute the name to the colour of the sky just after sunset. One local story concerning the town's name is that it stems from the floods that wash through the town every five or six years. Larger than average seasonal storms in the mountains cause a great rush of water to surge down to the sea, dragging with it great amounts of sand. During this time, the town is cut in two by the flood, the bay is stirred up and the sands turn it a golden yellow; this lasts a few days, has caused damage and loss of life in the past as people were unaware of the sudden onset and the force the water moves at. Today, locals are ready when they see the clouds over the mountains, anyone lucky enough to witness it will remember it for a long time. According to the Bedouin of the area, however the name "Dahab" has a different origin.
When the Bedouin people came there they called it "Waqaat Thahaab" which translates as "Time Goes". This name derived from the fact that when you were there, you could lose track of time as the days would begin to run together; the name was shortened to "Thahaab", but was misunderstood by travelers who thought they were saying Dahab. Much of the coral in the reefs just offshore is disappearing, due to inexperienced divers being taken out in big numbers. Another big problem is that in Masbat local restaurants are dumping sand and rock into the sea to extend the shoreline, again causing disruption to local coral reefs. Local Bedouin children, sometimes encouraged by their families, come to beach cafes and restaurants to sell items such as woven bracelets to tourists; the influx of female tourists on the beach, who dress in a more revealing fashion, introduces a culture unfamiliar to the region. The city has many of the most prominent attractions in Ras Abu Gallum, a nature reserve and a diving area.
It is one of the world's most famous dive spots. The Kanoun region is one of the best diving areas in Al-Asala, a region where about 75% of the population of the c
Yamit was an Israeli settlement in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula with a population of about 2,500 people. Yamit was established during Israel's occupation of the peninsula from the end of the 1967 Six-Day War until that part of the Sinai was handed over to Egypt in April 1982, as part of the terms of the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. Prior to the return of the land to Egypt, all the homes were bulldozed. Located in the Rafah Plain region south of the Gaza Strip, Yamit was envisioned as a large city for 200,000 people that would create a buffer zone between Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, it was built on land in a 140,000 dunam area from which some 1,500 Bedouin families of the Al-Ramilat tribes had been secretly expelled under the direct orders of the then-defense minister Moshe Dayan and Southern Command head Ariel Sharon. Construction of Yamit began in January 1975; when the first fifty residents arrived there were no buildings, electricity or water. Ambitious plans were drawn up for a port, a flour mill, a Dead Sea Canal, a hotel and a university.
A cornerstone was laid for a yeshiva. By the second year, the population reached 100. Despite efforts to promote Yamit's affordable housing, Yamit did not attract enough residents to make it a seaport. Upon the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, it became clear to residents that Yamit's days were numbered. Most relocated to other cities; those who chose to stay were joined by nationalist supporters. When the order came to evacuate Yamit by force, many of the residents barricaded themselves inside their homes, while others climbed up to their roofs as soldiers broke down their doors. Prior to the establishment of Yamit, the area south of Gaza known as the Rafah salient had been home to Bedouin farmers who "tended almond, peach and castor-oil trees and patches of wheat. Near the coastline, where groundwater rose to the surface, they farmed a strip a few hundred meters wide that yielded richer crops. Herds of sheep and goats added to their livelihood, they were settled tribes. On January 14, 1972, without explicit instructions by the Israeli government, Ariel Sharon ordered the expulsion of the Bedouins of the Rafah Plain, about 18 square miles of land in northeast Sinai, together with the razing of their orchards and the blocking of their water wells.
The tribal sheikhs claimed. Israeli army statistics put the number of expelled at 4,950; those with tents were given a day to remove them. Those in concrete houses were given an extra day to leave, their homes were reduced to rubble. Bulldozers, following a map design drawn by Sharon, drove down a swathe extending several dozen metres wide where the Bedouins were encamped, smashed everything in their way; the decision to build Yamit was approved by the Israeli government in September 1973. Settling northeastern Sinai was an idea promoted by Moshe Dayan; the idea was subsequently proposed in a document on Israeli policy in the occupied territories written by Yisrael Galili, drafted to bridge the gap between hardliners and moderates in the Israeli Labour Party. According to one Israeli kibbutznik who visited the area after the expulsion: "A group of members from kibbutzim in the region, including me, started to investigate. We went out and toured the area, were stunned by the dimensions of the wreckage, by the number of persons who were expelled.
The Israel Defense Forces and the government denied the facts that we presented, claimed that they had evacuated a few nomads from state lands onto which the nomads had encroached."The expulsion was not mentioned in the Israeli press. A month the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross met and raised the issue with Dayan's viceroy in the territories, Shlomo Gazit, who knew nothing of it; the IDF chief of staff David Elazar, on being informed, flew over the area by helicopter to see for himself and subsequently appointed a commission to investigate what Ariel Sharon had done. The subsequent inquiry revealed that the expulsion of the Bedouins had occurred under Dayan's personal initiative and without government authorization. Golda Meir's government implemented the pre-prepared plan for settlements on this Bedouin territory. According to one source, it was this official decision to establish a large Israeli city at Yamit which, for Anwar Sadat and senior Egyptian officials, "was the straw that broke the camel's back", eventuating in the loss of hopes for a peace agreement and the onset of the Yom Kippur War.
Avi Shlaim argues however that the Arab decision to go to war preceded the Galilee Document's publication. Nonetheless, Dayan made public remarks about his intention to build a deep-water port at Yamit, cutting Egypt off from the Gaza Strip and Sadat is on record as saying: "Every word spoken about Yamit is a knife pointing at me and at my self-respect."Local kibbutzniks were outraged by the destruction and, on consultation with the tribal chief, Suleiman Hussein Uda Abu Hilo, arranged for a human rights lawyer to appeal on their behalf. Some kibbutzniks, among them Oded Lifshitz, Latif Dori, were activists in the left-wing Mapam party and ran Rafiah tours in order to show Israelis the destruction that had taken place, to bring to public attention the fact that the image of the Bedouin as nomads was inexact, that their orchards were being bulldozed. In July 1972, nine Bedouin sheikhs from the area petitioned the Supreme Court of Israel in order to obtain an order permitting them to return to their homes.
Their case was presented by a Mapam man, Haim Holzm
Israeli settlements are civilian communities inhabited by Israeli citizens exclusively of Jewish ethnicity, built predominantly on lands within the Palestinian territories, which Israel has militarily occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War, on lands considered Syrian territory militarily occupied by Israel since the 1967 war. Such settlements within Palestinian territories exist in Area C of the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, within Syrian territory in the Golan Heights. Following the 1967 war, Israeli settlements existed within Egyptian territory in the Sinai Peninsula, within the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip. Israel dismantled 18 settlements in the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, while in 2005 all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip were dismantled, but only four in the West Bank. In the West Bank, Israel continues to expand its remaining settlements as well as settling new areas, despite pressure from the international community to desist. According to the Israeli investigative reporter Uri Blau, settlements received funding by private tax-exempt U.
S. NGOs of $220 million for 2009–2013, suggesting that the U. S. is indirectly subsidizing their creation. The international community considers the settlements in occupied territory to be illegal, the United Nations has upheld the view that Israel's construction of settlements constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention; the Israeli-occupied area known as East Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights are considered settlements by the international community, though Israel has applied its civil law to both territories and does not consider its developments there to be settlements. The International Court of Justice says these purportedly annexed settlements are illegal in a 2004 advisory opinion. In April 2012, UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, in response to moves by Israel to legalise Israeli outposts, reiterated that all settlement activity is illegal, "runs contrary to Israel's obligations under the Road Map and repeated Quartet calls for the parties to refrain from provocations."
Similar criticism was advanced by the EU and the US. Israel disputes the position of the international community and the legal arguments that were used to declare the settlements illegal. In December 2016 United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 confirmed the illegality of the settlement enterprise and renders Israeli citizens involved with settling the West Bank vulnerable to lawsuits throughout the world; the presence and ongoing expansion of existing settlements by Israel and the construction of settlement outposts is criticized as an obstacle to the Israeli–Palestinian peace process by the Palestinians, third parties such as the OIC, the United Nations, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States have echoed those criticisms. Settlement has an economic dimension, much of it driven by the lower costs of housing for Israeli citizens living in Israeli settlements compared to the cost of housing and living in Israel proper. Government spending per citizen in the settlements is double that spent per Israeli citizen in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, while government spending for settlers in isolated Israeli settlements is three times the Israeli national average.
Most of the spending goes to the security of the Israeli citizens living there. On 30 June 2014, according to the Yesha Council, 382,031 Israeli citizens lived in the 121 recognised Israeli settlements in the West Bank. A number of Palestinian non-Israeli citizens reside in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, over 300,000 Israeli citizens lived in settlements in East Jerusalem, over 20,000 Israeli citizens lived in settlements in the Golan Heights. In January 2015 the Israeli Interior Ministry gave figures of 389,250 Israeli citizens living in the West Bank and a further 375,000 Israeli citizens living in East Jerusalem. Settlements range in character from farming communities and frontier villages to urban suburbs and neighborhoods; the four largest settlements, Modi'in Illit, Ma'ale Adumim, Beitar Illit and Ariel, have achieved city status. Ariel has 18,000 residents; the 1967 Six-Day War left Israel in control of the entire West Bank of the Jordan River, including parts of Jerusalem. The entire Sinai Peninsula up to the Suez Canal, the Gaza strip.
Most of the Golan Heights, since 1981, administered under the Golan Heights Law. As early as 1967, Israeli settlement policy was started by the Labor government of Levi Eshkol; the basis for Israeli settlement in the West Bank became the Allon Plan, named after its inventor Yigal Allon. It implied Israeli annexation of major parts of the Israeli-occupied territories East Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and the Jordan Valley; the settlement policy of the government of Yitzhak Rabin, was derived from the Allon Plan. The first settlement was Kfar Etzion, in the southern West Bank, although that location was outside the Allon Plan. Many settlements began as Nahal settlements, they were established as military outposts and expanded and populated with civilian inhabitants. According to a secret document dating to 1970, obtained by Haaretz, the settlement of Kiryat Arba was established by confiscating land by military order and falsely representing the project as being for military use while in reality, Kiryat Arba was planned for settler use.
The method of confiscating land
Israel the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west and Egypt to the southwest; the country contains geographically diverse features within its small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition. Israel has evidence of the earliest migration of hominids out of Africa. Canaanite tribes are archaeologically attested since the Middle Bronze Age, while the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerged during the Iron Age; the Neo-Assyrian Empire destroyed Israel around 720 BCE. Judah was conquered by the Babylonian and Hellenistic empires and had existed as Jewish autonomous provinces.
The successful Maccabean Revolt led to an independent Hasmonean kingdom by 110 BCE, which in 63 BCE however became a client state of the Roman Republic that subsequently installed the Herodian dynasty in 37 BCE, in 6 CE created the Roman province of Judea. Judea lasted as a Roman province until the failed Jewish revolts resulted in widespread destruction, expulsion of Jewish population and the renaming of the region from Iudaea to Syria Palaestina. Jewish presence in the region has persisted to a certain extent over the centuries. In the 7th century CE, the Levant was taken from the Byzantine Empire by the Arabs and remained in Muslim control until the First Crusade of 1099, followed by the Ayyubid conquest of 1187; the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt extended its control over the Levant in the 13th century until its defeat by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. During the 19th century, national awakening among Jews led to the establishment of the Zionist movement in the diaspora followed by waves of immigration to Ottoman Syria and British Mandate Palestine.
In 1947, the United Nations adopted a Partition Plan for Palestine recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an internationalized Jerusalem. The plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency, rejected by Arab leaders; the following year, the Jewish Agency declared the independence of the State of Israel, the subsequent 1948 Arab–Israeli War saw Israel's establishment over most of the former Mandate territory, while the West Bank and Gaza were held by neighboring Arab states. Israel has since fought several wars with Arab countries, since the Six-Day War in 1967 held occupied territories including the West Bank, Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip, it extended its laws to the Golan East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank. Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories is the world's longest military occupation in modern times. Efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have not resulted in a final peace agreement. However, peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan have been signed.
In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a democratic state. The country has a liberal democracy, with a parliamentary system, proportional representation, universal suffrage; the prime minister is head of government and the Knesset is the legislature. Israel is a developed country and an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member, with the 32nd-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2017; the country benefits from a skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in the world with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree. Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East, has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Furthermore, Israel ranked 11th in the UN's 2018 World Happiness Report. Upon independence in 1948, the country formally adopted the name "State of Israel" after other proposed historical and religious names including Eretz Israel and Judea, were considered but rejected.
In the early weeks of independence, the government chose the term "Israeli" to denote a citizen of Israel, with the formal announcement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett. The names Land of Israel and Children of Israel have been used to refer to the biblical Kingdom of Israel and the entire Jewish people respectively; the name "Israel" in these phrases refers to the patriarch Jacob who, according to the Hebrew Bible, was given the name after he wrestled with the angel of the Lord. Jacob's twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel. Jacob and his sons had lived in Canaan but were forced by famine to go into Egypt for four generations, lasting 430 years, until Moses, a great-great grandson of Jacob, led the Israelites back into Canaan during the "Exodus"; the earliest known archaeological artifact to mention the word "Israel" as a collective is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt. The area is known as the Holy Land, being holy for all Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity and the Bahá'í Faith.
Under British Mandate, the whole region was known as Palestine (Hebre
Gulf of Aqaba
The Gulf of Aqaba or Gulf of Eilat is a large gulf at the northern tip of the Red Sea, east of the Sinai Peninsula and west of the Arabian mainland. Its coastline is divided between four countries: Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia; the gulf is east of west of the Arabian Peninsula. With the Gulf of Suez to the west, it extends from the northern portion of the Red Sea, it reaches a maximum depth of 1,850 m in its central area: the Gulf of Suez is wider but less than 100 m deep. The gulf measures 24 kilometres at its widest point and stretches some 160 kilometres north from the Straits of Tiran to where Israel meets Egypt and Jordan. Like the coastal waters of the Red Sea, the gulf is one of the world's premier sites for diving; the area is rich in coral and other marine biodiversity and has accidental shipwrecks and vessels deliberately sunk in an effort to provide a habitat for marine organisms and bolster the local dive tourism industry. At this northern end of the gulf are three important cities: Taba in Egypt, Eilat in Israel, Aqaba in Jordan.
They are strategically important commercial ports and popular resorts for tourists seeking to enjoy the warm climate. Further south, Haql is the largest Saudi Arabian city on the gulf. On Sinai, Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab are the major centers; the largest population center is Aqaba, with a population of 108,000, followed by Eilat with a population of 48,000. The International Hydrographic Organization defines the southern limit of the gulf as "A line running from Ràs al Fasma Southwesterly to Requin Island through Tiran Island to the Southwest point thereof and thence Westward on a parallel to the coast of the Sinaï Peninsula"; the gulf is one of two gulfs created by the Sinai Peninsula's bifurcation of the northern Red Sea, the Gulf of Suez lying to the west of the peninsula and the Gulf of Aqaba to its east. Geologically, the gulf forms the southern end of the Dead Sea Transform, it contains three small pull-apart basins, the Elat Deep, Aragonese Deep and Dakar Deep, formed between four left lateral strike-slip fault segments.
Movement on one of these faults caused the 1995 Gulf of Aqaba earthquake. Trade across the Red Sea between Thebes port of Elim and Elat at the head of the gulf is documented as early as the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt. Expeditions crossing the Red Sea and heading south to Punt are mentioned in the fifth, the sixth, the eleventh, the twelfth and the eighteenth dynasties of Egypt, when Hatshepsut built a fleet to support the trade and journeyed south to Punt in a six-month voyage. Thebes used Nubian gold or Nub from her conquests south into Kush to facilitate the purchase of frankincense, bitumen, juniper oil and copper amulets for the mummification industry at Karnak. Egyptian settlements near Timna at the head of the gulf date to the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. At the northern edge, the ancient city of Ayla was a commercial hub for the Nabateans; the Romans built the Via Traiana Nova, which joined the King's Highway at Aqaba and connected Africa to Asia and the Levant and Red Sea shipping. Aqaba was a major Ottoman port, connected to Medina by the Hejaz railway.
During World War I, the Battle of Aqaba was the key battle that ended a 500-year Ottoman rule over Greater Syria. The Marine Twilight Zone Research and Exploration program was set up in 2003 by the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences of Eilat to conduct research on the deep coral reef systems of the northern Red Sea; the gulf is one of the most popular diving destinations in the world. About 250,000 dives are performed annually in Eilat's 11 km coastline, diving represents 10% of the tourism income of this area; the Landscape of Wadi Rum to the east of the northern edge of the gulf is a popular destination. Other destinations are the ruins of the iron-age civilization of Ayla in the city of Aqaba, the site of the World War I Battle of Aqaba, led by Lawrence of Arabia. Whales, dolphins and whale sharks live in the gulf as well. Al Jawf Region/Tabuk Region Aqaba Governorate Israeli Diving Federation South Sinai Governorate Tourism in Israel Tourism in Egypt Tourism in Jordan The Red Sea Marine Peace Park page on Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs - a joint Israel-Jordan initiative