Al-Ahram Weekly Online   4 - 10 October 2007
Issue No. 865
Travel
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Now there's Nabq

Sharm El-Sheikh's Neama Bay is not the only attraction in the city. Nabq is coming into its own, reports Rehab Saad

Click to view caption
Minister of tourism, Zoheir Garana, during the inauguration of a number of tourist projects in Sharm El-Sheikh (left); one of the newly opened resorts in Nabq photos: Rehab Saad

Not too long ago, Nabq, a natural reserve and a tourist integrated centre, was a modest tourist destination with few hotels and with nearly no tourist facilities and no real infrastructure.

The picture has changed dramatically since those sparse times. The number of hotels in Nabq now stands at 23, housing 9,405 rooms at a cost of LE2.8 billion. "The hotels provide more than 28,000 direct and indirect job opportunities," Ahmed Balbaa, head of the South Sinai Hotels Chamber and head of Balbaa Group for Hotels & Resorts, said. "There are also 25 hotels under construction including 8,888 rooms for LE2.6 billion which provide 27,000 job opportunities," he added.

According to the Tourist Development Authority, (TDA), investors of each tourist integrated centre are to set up a company that will build the infrastructure: water, electricity, roads, telephones and maintenance. Charming Sharm, as it is called, belongs to the Nabq company. "All 28 investors of Nabq are partners in Charming Sharm with a capital of LE200 million," Balbaa said.

Charming Sharm executed the second phase of a telephone communication network, operating 1,000 phone lines, in addition to the beautification of the main quarters, cleaning up of the main roads and drawing up plans for the LE1.5 million rear area of the centre which will include real estate, hotels, service areas, a stadium and sports courts. "The first phase of a 4km beach promenade was executed and work is currently under way on the second 3.5km phase," Balbaa said. He added that they are currently working with the South Sinai governorate and the Ministry of Tourism to provide other essential public services for the centre such as a police station, medical centre and gas station.

The company also built an 8km bicycle pathway worth LE1.5 million to enable visitors to bicycle which is popular in Europe.

During his most recent visit to the centre, Minister of Tourism Zoheir Garana inaugurated a number of tourist establishments in the Nabq tourist centre including Laguna Vista Garden, a five-star 160-chalet hotel and Khan Laguna, a market which includes 102 elegantly designed shops, most of which are brand names, in addition to a number of restaurants and cafés which include Starbucks, Cilentro, McDonalds, Peking and Subaru. The tour also included the inauguration of the Iberotel Hotel, Rihana, Melia Sharm, Novotel, and Coral Hills. "Sharm El-Sheikh includes 60,000 rooms, 40 per cent of the total room number in Egypt," said Garana.

Occupancy rates have increased in South Sinai in the last few months, recording 70 per cent in Sharm El-Sheikh, 45 per cent in Dahab, 42 per cent in Taba and 18 per cent in Nuweiba. August witnessed the biggest increase in Taba, 67 per cent, rising from 20 per cent in the wake of the terrorist attacks which targeted Taba in 2004.

Governor of South Sinai Hani Metwalli attributed the increase in Taba to the increase in charter flights to the city and to the latest marketing efforts by the Ministry of Tourism.

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