Sinai in detail


Dangers & Annoyances

Because of the peninsula's unique position between cultures and continents plus its mountainous terrain and – in recent decades – its tourist masses, Sinai has always struggled with security concerns.

Security issues in northern Sinai (above Taba) have been at the fore since 2011 when Wilayet-Sinai (then known as Ansar Bayt Al Maqdis) and other jihadist groups began an insurgency against the Egyptian government, taking advantage of the authority vacuum in the wake of the 2011 revolution. The conflict intensified in the area around Al Arish and Sheikh Zuweid after the downfall of President Morsi in 2013 with an escalation of attacks mostly aimed at government targets, and the Egyptian military launching counter-operations. In November 2017, a mosque in Al Rawda was bombed, killing 311 people, in the worst attack in Egyptian history.

Although much of the conflict occurs far from any tourist centre, and the vast amount of insurgent attacks have specifically targeted police and army facilities, occasionally the conflict has rippled over into greater Sinai with deadly consequences. A suicide attack on a tourist bus in Taba in February 2014 that killed four and wounded 16 was firmly aimed at Sinai's tourism industry. And while the official Egyptian investigation into 2015's Metrojet crash has yet to publish their conclusive findings, the air disaster was claimed by Wilayet-Sinai and is widely believed internationally to have been caused by a bomb.

Separately, a spate of kidnapping incidents on the St Katherine–Sharm El Sheikh and Taba–Dahab roads occurred in 2012 and 2013. On all these occasions the hostages were taken by Bedouin tribesmen in high-profile attempts to pressure the Egyptian government to release jailed Bedouin. In all instances, the hostages were released unharmed after a short period of negotiation.

Unlike the string of bomb attacks in the mid-2000s which hit the heart of Sinai's tourism industry in Taba, Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab, after which tourism numbers bounced back quite quickly, the current Sinai crisis continues to severely affect Sinai's tourist economy.

It is impossible to offer anything other than speculation regarding the possibility of future terrorist attacks in Sinai. The majority of travelers to South Sinai enjoy their visit without incident. However, because of security fears over the ongoing conflict in North Sinai, many foreign governments issue cautionary travel advisories for most of South Sinai; most still consider Sharm El Sheikh a safe destination but warn against traveling by air. Travelers should read their embassy's advice for updates on the situation and keep informed of the latest events while making travel plans.