Egypt’s north coast is turning into a year-round destination with quality resorts and diverse range of attractions. The Mediterranean coast is one of the region’s fastest-growing luxury hospitality areas, with projects sprouting from the real estate boom in Alexandria and stretching 525 kilometres west to the Libyan border.
Alexandria has an atmosphere that is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern, its ambience and cultural heritage distancing it from the rest of the country although it is actually only 225 kilometres from Cairo.
While the city is awash with ancient cultural attractions, the city continues to look forward with new projects and developments.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a 21st-century version of the great classical library, with its modern glass-and-steel structure with giant exterior grey granite walls carved with hieroglyphs and symbols from every known alphabet worldwide.
Investment is flooding into the north, with TUI Germany, The Travco Group, the Government of Matrouh and the Egypt Tourism Development Authority teaming up to develop a major international tourist project costing $861 million.
The two-tiered construction is being built on 1.8 million square metres of land during the next five years. The first phase includes the building of five four-star resorts, the first of which will be operational within a year. The second phase sees the remaining four hotels launched, raising the total room count to 4,300, all serviced by a full array of tourism and entertainment ancillary services.
Ahmad El Khadem, chairman of the Egypt Tourist Authority, said:
“It is extremely pleasing to see the northern region now realising its potential. Investment and consumer interest will continue to increase as the developments are completed and the area’s profile grows.’
Further west, Porto Marina, the first international class marina on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, will be able to accommodate jet skis, 100-metre yachts and boast a 1,000-berth marina on completion.
The marina will provide not only all the expected facilities for yachts, but will also offer a first class yacht club and a wide range of shore facilities all within walking distance.
These include a shopping mall, 10 restaurants, a cinema complex, five- star hotel, golf course, horse riding, swimming pools and desert excursions.
Agami, known as the Egyptian ‘St. Tropez’, continues to attract a broad range of travellers. The resort village was founded in the 1950s, and while most of the housing in the area is simple, there are exceptions, including the Villa Lashin, built in 1962 by architect Ali Azzam and the Beit el-Halawa, built by Abd el-Wahid el-Wakil.
Nearby are the resort villages of Hannoville and Sidi Kheir, which are also popular summer retreats.
Fine beaches are already scattered along the coast from Alexandria to Mersa Matrouh, including the resort of Sidi Abdel Rahman, a secluded bay with clear waters and a selection of villas and hotels.
At Mersa Matrouh, the natural bay and long white beach make for good sunbathing and swimming in calm transparent waters. In spite of miles of white sand beaches and azure sea, the charm of Egypt’s Mediterranean coastline is that it is still undeveloped and relatively unpopulated.
But the plans on the drawing board mean that the north is set to become a jewel in Egypt’s tourism crown in years to come.