The 4350-sq-km St Katherine Protectorate was created in 1996 to counteract the detrimental effects of rapidly increasing tourism on St Catherine’s Monastery and the adjacent Mt Sinai. In addition to the area’s unique high-altitude desert ecosystem, it protects a wealth of historical sites sacred to the world’s three main monotheistic religions, and the core part around the monastery has been declared a Unesco World Heritage site.
Rising up out of the desert and jutting above the other peaks surrounding the monastery is the towering 2285m Mt Sinai (Gebel Musa). Tucked into a barren valley at the foot of Mt Sinai is the ancient St Catherine’s Monastery. Approximately 3.5km from here is the small town of Al Milga, which is also called Katreen and is known as the ‘Meeting Place’ by local Jabaliyya Bedouin.