The Sinai Peninsula is a triangular region (meaning peninsula) which is situated between the Mediterranean Sea in the north and the Red Sea in the south. It is a sixty thousand square kilometer of area in Egypt and is the only part of the whole of the Egyptian territory located in Asia. The major portion of this peninsula has a population of approximately five lac people. Egyptians have also informally named it the Land of Turquoise or Ard-ul-Fairuz. In fact, history has it that ancient Egypt knew this place as the Land of Green Minerals or Mafkat. The Sinai Peninsula is divided among two administrative Egyptian provinces called Ganub Sina ( meaning South Sinai) and the Shamal Sina( meaning North Sinai). Besides these, three more provinces have parts of the Sinai peninsula, namely, el-Sewai or Suez in the south end of Suez Canal, el-Isma’ileyyah in the middle and Port Said in north.
It is contested that the name Sinai may have been taken from the the ancient moon god Sin’s name or from the word Seneh in Hebrew. It is assumed that the Sinai Peninsula got its name because of the presence of a mountain near Saint Catherine’s Monastery called Biblical Mount Sinai. The region has been a reason for conflict between various Egyptian administrative states, basically due to the strategic location of the peninsula.Today, Sinai Peninsula has become a major tourist attraction due to its beautiful natural location, rich coral reefs and also due to its biblical history. The Mount Sinai in the peninsula hold lots of religious significance for the people of Abrahamic faith.
The area holds a rich history of rising and falling empires and empires. Besides being under periods of direct rule by Egyptian governments and before being the part of the modern Egyptian republic, the area was occupied and controlled by the Ottoman Empire and the the United Kingdom from 1882 to 1956, after which in the Suez Crisis it was invaded by Israel. The 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty saw the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the lands.
Sinai was originally inhabited by the Monitu people and they called it Mafkat. From the times of the first ever dynasty or empire or even before that, the Egyptians have mined turquoise in the Sinai Peninsula in basically two locations. They now carry Arabic names Wadi Maghareh and Serabit-el-Khadim. The mines have been worked for thousands of years and have been mined in a seasonal nature. But any of the modern or recent attempts to mine the turquoise deposits and earn a fortune have proved to be futile. Despite being an unprofitable business, these mines are famous for holding the suspicion of being world’s first ever historically attested mines.
The Jewish tradition describes that the Sinai peninsula was crossed by the people of Israel from Egypt and has been described in detail in the Hebrew Bible during the time of The Exodus. This journey had many halts and stays over a span of forty years in the 1313 BC in the Jewish tradition. This has attracted historians to explore the truth behind these claims but unfortunately, there has not been any such historical discovery or archaeological finding to stand as an evidence for large scale nomadic wanderings from that time period, as is culturally believed.
The most popular tourist destination in Sinai Peninsula is the Mount Sinai and the Saint Catherine’s Monastery. While the Mount SInai has Biblical reference and also is popular by the name of Jabal Musa, the Saint Catherine’s Monastery is considered to be the oldest working Christian monastery in the world! Besides, since Sinai is a peninsula, it is gifted with beautiful beaches. Beach Resorts like the Sharm-el-Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba etc. are very popular. These beaches are easily accessible to people most of who arrive at the Sharm-el-Sheikh International Airport or through Eilat, Taba or Israel, or from Cairo by bus or train or even by ferry through Jordan. Over the past three decades, Sinai has attracted lots of tourists from all over the world to explore not just its rich scenic beauty but also explore is history.
Sinai is one of the coldest provinces in Egypt due to its high altitudes and mountainous regions. More surprisingly, in the winters, the temperatures in some of the cities and towns of Sinai plummet to a freezing minus sixteen degrees celsius or a three degree fahrenheit. Egyptians in very large numbers from the Nile Valley and Delta have emigrated and settled in the area of Sinai Peninsula to work in tourism. But unfortunately, while tourism industry is flourishing on one hand, at the same time development has negatively affected the native population of Sinai, the Bedouin population. So, to help overcome and alleviate these issues various Non-governmental organizations have come forward and have started to work in the Sinai Peninsula region. One of the very famous one is the Makhad Trust which is a charity trust based in United Kingdom. It basically assists and guides the Bedouin population in maintaining a sustainable level of income. Besides, it also protects Sinai’s natural environment, cultural heritage and native and historical significance of the area and its people.