In the late 1980s, the Red Sea area of Egypt began to gain notoriety as a world class holiday destination, with sandy beaches, clear waters and excellent diving opportunities. So in 1990 the wealthy Sawiris family decided to create the ultimate Red Sea resort, a self-sufficient and modern town called El Gouna. Today, El Gouna boasts 17 hotels ranging from budget friendly one star, to luxurious five star accommodations. It also has its own beaches, shopping district, aquarium, paintball arena, museum, and even a gold course, which was co-designed by the pro golfer Fred Couples. The El Gouna football club is now recognised as one of the best in Egypt, cementing the town’s status as a functional and commercially successful hub, and the ultimate holiday destination.
Location: El Gouna–a seaside resort, Egyptian style
El Gouna’s location is critical to its success. The resort incorporates a number of natural beaches, which fringe the popular Red Sea, allowing visitors to access the area’s dive sites and snorkelling hot spots. The town is just across the water from the famous city of Sharm el Sheik, and just 30 km north of Hurghada and the international airport.
Business: A tourist’s paradise
In El Gouna, it is all about tourism. This is a city, which was built for tourists, is funded by tourists, and caters almost exclusively to tourists. It is a place unlike any other, but there’s no denying that it is a commercial success. The wealth of restaurants, nightclubs, activity centres, and hotels means that the local service industry is the envy of Egypt, and both unemployment rates and crime rates are extremely low.
Culture: A replica of history
For a place, which has only existed for a few decades, El Gouna is surprisingly well served by theatres, museums and galleries. However, on closer inspection the cultural heritage of the town is not quite what it seems–most of the pieces on display at the museum are replicas of original Egyptian statues and treasures, although it also houses an impressive number of contemporary Egyptian artworks.
Activities: Under the sea
There is so much to do in El Gouna that most visitors will struggle to take it all in. To take full advantage of the warm, clear waters, try snorkelling and scuba diving with one of the many dive schools in the area. Kids will love the go-kart track, aquarium and paintball arena, while a slew of golf courses, tennis courts, and gyms will appeal to the older crowd.