Many modern guides to Marsa Alam describe it as a fishing
village on Egypt's Red Sea coast 132km (82mi) from Al-Quseir.
However, with a new international airport, a number of other
planed tourism projects and many new hotels, it is rapidly
becoming much more than a fishing village.
Marsa Alam sits on the T-junction between the Red Sea coast road
and the road from Edfu which sits on the Nile river about 230km
(142mi) inland. This road, which was probably originally built
by Ptolemy II in the Greek period, passes through some historic
landscape where the ancient Egyptians mined much of their gold.
Several gold mining operations are known. Just off this road are
found two areas, called Wadi Barmiya, and about about 30
kilometers further into the mountains. Wadi Baramiya extends
into another larger Wadi named Miya, where a temple was built
by, among others, Seti I. Both areas were probably gold mining
In addition, a wealth of rock inscriptions from as early as the
predynastic period may also be found along this route near Marsa
Alam. Here, the smooth rock faces were an ideal canvas for
ancient graffiti, which dates from the earliest times right up
until the present. The ancient graffiti depicts animals,
including giraffes and cattle, but also includes hunting scenes,
such as an ostrich hunt with dogs. Unfortunately, with the
expansion of this road, many if not all of these inscriptions
will be soon lost.
While this road in ancient times was used for the gold mining
trade, archaeologists believe its main use was as a trade route
between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea where an important
ancient port was located.
Today, Marsa Alam remains a fairly small tourist town, but we
may expect to see considerable development in the very near
The airport is actually part of a larger development
project designed to create a state of the art resort area in
Port Ghaleb, including both a 1,000 berth marina and port, with
a dock-side harbor, yacht club and spa, along with a highly
animated town center and a corniche around the marina area. On
the corniche will be shops, galleries, boutiques, restaurants
and bistros, nightclubs, discos and a casino. In addition, there
will be a conference center and festival hall, along with a
combined desert and links golf course
The private marina will not only be the largest in the Middle
East, but an international sea-gateway for yachts to visit
Located just outside of Marsa Alam, that project is scheduled
for completion in 2004, though the marina may open as early as
this year. By then, even conservative estimates indicate that
some 4,000 hotel rooms will be available in and around Marsa
Only a short time ago, it would seem that most of the
accommodations here were tent camps, but even now, many new,
fine hotels have been built. However, for the moment, the
primary reason to visit the mainland Red Sea community is for
the snorkeling and diving. This whole coast line is one huge
reef of exceptional quality with new dive sites being discovered
all the time. Dive sites such as Elphinstone Reef (famous for
its hammerheads!) can now be dived by day boats from Marsa Alam.
It should also be noted that a nature reserve stretches from
here to Gebel Elba in the south. The primary dive sites in the
area include Shaab Marsa Alam , Shaab Samadai , Daedalus Reef ,
Shaab Sharm (Gota Sharm) , Abu Galawa , Shaab Maksur, Sataya
(Dolphin Reef),Zabargad, Erg Diab and finally Rocky Island .