For a lot of reasons we didn’t visit our holiday house in Dahab, Egypt in over two and half years. The longest we’ve ever been away since Sinai Sun Villa was built in 2012. After we returned from our big adventure in Asia in 2015 it took us a while to find ourselves again. But now we’re finally back in our second home in beautiful Dahab, even if it’s only for a few weeks. And we’re pretty determined to never stay away this long ever again! So what’s going on in Dahab, Egypt right now?
When we were here the last time in March 2015 there were hardly any tourists and people working in the tourism industry were suffering. After the January 25 Revolution in 2011, tourism in Egypt went to record low. Many countries issued travel warnings for Egypt and other countries in Northern Africa. Egypt’s second largest income source is tourism – the Nile Delta, the Red Sea and of course the Pyramids are some of the country’s most visited locations.
Some of the people we knew in Dahab had to leave and go to Cairo because they couldn’t make any money in Dahab. Tourism in other parts of Egypt, such as Hurghada were recovering, but Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab were still suffering because of the continuing unrest in North Sinai. Then, when things were finally starting to look up for South Sinai, there was a terrible attack on a Russian plane in October 2015. Again many countries issued a travel warning.
Back in Dahab after two and a half years
After what seemed like an eternity we are finally back in Dahab. Because there weren’t any direct flights yet from Amsterdam to Sharm el Sheikh International Airport, we decided to take a night flight with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul to Sharm el Sheikh. Another option would have been to fly to Amsterdam to Cairo and then a domestic flight from Cairo to Sharm el Sheikh. But Turkish Airlines was the more budget-friendly choice. It was a long trip with our little world traveler. We left The Netherlands at 2 PM and arrived in Dahab at 4 AM the next day. Luckily, once again our world traveler did great and the flight went as good as you could expect. After reading the most horrible reviews of Turkish Airline, we were a bit apprehensive. But the service was actually quite good.
Some upgrades in Dahab
After getting some much-needed sleep we woke up around 10AM and could finally see our house. After 2,5 years of very little maintenance, there definitely was some work to be done. In the afternoon we went out to see how Dahab was doing and to find out how much had changed since the last time we were here. We were happy to notice that the main road through Assalah (the local area where we live) had finally gotten some much needed new asphalt and the streetlights got an upgrade as well. The road had become really bad the last couple of years because it’s the main road going from Mashraba (Dahab’s main tourist center) to Dahab’s best-known dive spots like Blue Hole, Bells and The Canyon. We’re happy to see our beloved town is looking better again.
In the last few months more and more countries are easing their travel warnings. And slowly direct flights connecting South Sinai to the rest of the world are resuming. While walking through Dahab on our way to Lighthouse and the boulevard we noticed there were less stray dogs than before. Dahab Animal Welfare, a local non-profit organization has been working for the last seven years to improve the lives of animals in Dahab. They have regular TNR (trap, neuter, release) programs. We support their efforts and hope they make life for the animals here a bit better. If you want to donate some money or maybe want to adopt a dog, visit their website or Facebook page.
We’re seeing divers, surfers and snorkelers again!
After our little walk through Assalah, we walked another 10 minutes to the Lighthouse area on the boulevard. We were surprised to see that there were quite lot of people on the boulevard, both tourists and locals. A very welcome sight! Not like 2015 when it was practically deserted. Divers, freedivers, wind and kite surfers, students doing a dive course or freediving course and others just enjoying the sun. People are starting to find their way back to our beautiful Dahab! Finally, the restaurants, shops and dive centers are starting to make decent money again. A lot of our Egyptian friends work in the diving industry, so we’re grateful to see them all working again and having fun with their customers. With the new flights arriving from Europe, we’re starting to see some ‘gold’ (Dahab means gold in Arabic) on the horizon for the city we fell in love with.
The house, a work in progress
As I said before, we need to do some maintenance on the house. In the beginning of 2016 there was an earthquake in Dahab which caused a few small cracks in some of the walls. We are getting those fixed and hope we have enough time to get a painter to paint a part of the outside of our house. The small trees we planted early 2012 are not so small anymore and apart from the mess their leaves cause in the rest of the garden, they’re now also threatening the foundation with their roots. So we had to take them out, which was quite a job.
It’s fantastic that the palm trees we planted 5 years ago are doing so well. We would like to get some more color in the garden but finding the right plants to grow in the desert is not as easy as it looks. We have a nice cactus area in our garden which is doing great, but its al the same kind of green. Oh well… as any homeowner knows, a house is always a work in progress 😉 We’re just very happy to be back in Dahab again.