Waiting for Godot?
RUSTED swings swaying vacantly with the breeze, scattered chunks of wood and accumulating piles of rubble are a desolate sight to behold, even more so when found on the most exquisite sea-front spot. Al-Ahram Weekly contemplates the ravages of abandon.
The renowned Sheraton Hotel was the first offspring of tourism development in 1970s' Hurghada. Although no longer a Sheraton property, the building is still referred to as such, long after a fierce dispute erupted surrounding its proprietorship years ago. Saudi businessman Abdel-Aziz Al-Ibrahimi, owner of the Saudi Egyptian Company for Red Sea Investments, had purchased the property from the Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels (EGOTH), along with over 80 surrounding feddans, 30 of which seawater.
With Major-General Magdy El-Qobeissy taking office as the new Red Sea governor, legal battles over the property erupted. The governor filed law-suits contesting the legality of Al-Ibrahimi's contract, since only the country's president is entitled to sell property as public as the sea, and hence refuting the businessman's right to a huge part of his purchase. Ironically, Al-Ibrahimi had bought the property and the surrounding feddans with a valid contract which, however, his lawyer describes as strewn with a series of difficulties that halted the process from further development.
Today, what is left of the legacy is a guard watching the deserted building and charging LE15 as an entrance fee. For this modest sum, visitors are handed a worn-out mattress to stretch upon a wooden chaise-long or spend the day on the beach. Sadly, what could, and should, have been a spectacular area is reduced to piles of waste and rocks in a ship graveyard reflecting the negligence suffered by the edifice and surrounding grounds over long years.