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Sharm El Sheikh is probably the best known town of the southern Sinai, for the simple reason that it is Sharm El Sheikh which gave the Red Sea an international reputation as one of the world's most extraordinary diving destinations. And the coral reefs of Ras Mohammed, Tiran, and the Aqaba coast, on which Sharm built its legendary reputation, are as dazzling as ever. Today, however, diving is only part of the attraction here, as many visitors arrive simply to enjoy the sun, to parasail and windsurf and bicycle, or to explore the magical desert landscape of the southern Sinai. Since the mid-1980s, the Sharm el-Sheikh area has come into its own as a world-class resort destination, with the construction of almost forty hotels and resorts.
Of course, such expansion brings with it new problems and concerns--it is the natural beauty of the Sinai that brings so many guests, and it is also the natural beauty of the Sinai that is most endangered by so many visitors. Accordingly, the last several years have witnessed strong efforts by the Sharm el-Sheikh community to protect and to preserve the fragile environment of this region. The creation of Ras Mohammed National Park in 1983 marked the first great step in this effort, and today a full 52% of the Egyptian shoreline on the Gulf of Aqaba is now protected.
Before 1967, Sharm el-Sheikh didn't even appear on most maps, and it was politics rather than diving that first brought the world's attention to this tiny port. Situated right at the approach to the Strait of Tiran, Sharm became famous when Egypt's President Nasser decided to blockade the straits, thus cutting off Israel's access to the Red Sea. The direct result of the blockade was the Arab-Israeli conflict of June 5th, 1967, and Sharm el- Sheikh only began to grow in 1968, under Israeli occupation. Over the ensuing years it gradually began to attract divers, travellers, and resort guests, but its strategic importance is still evident. The town's large southwestern inlet, Sharm el-Sheikh bay, remains a military harbour.
The centre of Sharm El Sheikh is called Na'ama Bay, located about 15 kilometers south of Sharm el-Sheikh Airport. It has in the past few years become the epicenter of tourism activity in the southern Sinai. Its resort hotels and shops and energetic nightlife--to say nothing of the stunning beauty of the bay itself--make this recently developed area a magnet for visitors to Sinai.
Geographically, Na'ama Bay is a natural outgrowth of Sharm el-Sheikh. It is situated along a lovely stretch of coastline at the mouth of the Wadi el-Aat, itself an attraction of considerable beauty. All of the outstanding dive sites of the south Sinai, as one would expect, are within easy reach.

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