Ingenious Location

Lying in the extreme north eastern part of Egypt, Sinai is shaped like a triangle, bounded by the Gulf of Aqaba on the eastern side, and the Gulf of Suez on the western side.

North of this triangle, the remaining part is a trapezium-shaped area bounded by the Mediterranean coast on the northern side , the demarcating line running between the capes of the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez on the southern and Egypt’s international borders with Israel on the east and Suez Canal on the west. Sinai Peninsula has an area of approximately 61,000 sq. km, accounting for about 6 % of Egypt’s total area. Sinai’s important geographical and strategic position has been the > password < and the decisive factor across history and so it is at present and will remain in the future.

The Peninsula is surrounded by water masses on three sides: the Mediterranean on the north , with 160 km of coasts, the Gulf of Suez on the south west, with 240 km of coasts and the Gulf of Aqaba on the east and south east, with 150 km of coasts. Of the total length of Egypt’s coasts, Sinai alone accounts for 30 %.

Sinai is the land bridge between Asia and Africa and cross-road a for civilisations of the ancient world in the Nile Delta, Euphrates- Tigris Delta and Syria.

Sinai is honourably mentioned in the Holy Quran and other Heavenly Scriptures. Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him ) crossed it; Prophet Moses lived and the stone tablets there and the Holy Family also crossed en route to the mainland. Sinai’s geographic and economic importance is so strongly reflected on its historical development that it became an all-encompassing record of major events of the region in both the remote and near past.

Glimpses of Sinai's History

Historical and scientific evidence has proved that, since the Palaeolithic age,i.e.; circa 100,000 years before, Egyptians have populated several parts in north, central and west Sinai . At that time, Sinai was the route of immigration between Asia and Africa. Tools dating back to this era, found at al-Areesh, al-Hasana, ar-Rawaf’a and Abu-OEqaila looked similar to those used in the Nile Valley. This proves that Sinai had been long since populated, being an integral part of the Nile Valley’s civilisation.

The first reference to Sinai in the known annals of ancient history dates back to the Year 3000 BC. It was known for its copper and turquoise mines. However, these mines were exploited even hundreds of years before this date as ancient Egyptians had known and made tools of copper since man moved from the stone age to the metal age

The Old Kingdom ( 2780 BC - 2280 BC )

Sinai was known for its copper and turquoise mines, particularly in al-Maghara area where inscriptions showing names of major kings of that period were found .

The Middle Kingdom ( 2130 BC - 1600 BC )

Mines in Sinai continued to be exploited and more sites nearby al-Maghara such as Serabeet al-Khadem were explored. On this site a temple was built for goddess Hathur , where numerous inscription showing names of kings were found.

The Modern Kingdom ( 1600 BC - 1000 BC )    
Particularly with the beginning of the 18 th. Dynasty ( 1580 B C ), the great military route was frequently used as one of the important military routes in the ancient world following the defeat of the Hyksos at the hands of the Egyptian army. En route to Egypt, the Holy Family crossed through Sinai.

A few centuries later, some Christian converts , escaping Roman persecution, defected to Firan Oasis in South Sinai where they built a number of monasteries , of which there still remains St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Moses.

The Middle Ages

In the course of Arab conquest of Egypt in 640 A D , the Muslim army led by Amr Ibn al-A's , coming from Syria, marched through Sinai along the often-trodden old military road parallel to the Mediterranean coast up to al-Areesh. Hence the army proceeded forward to al-Farma (Pulusium) where it managed to overcome strong resistance by the Byzantine garrison.

At last the Muslim army forged its way into Egypt across Bilbees. Later, Sinai Peninsula regained its military prominence during the Crusades. As soon as the Crusaders established themselves in Jerusalem and southern Syria, they thought of laying their hands on Egypt. In 1116 AD King Baldwin I of Jerusalem staged a military expedition towards Egypt. He managed to reach Aila on the Red Sea and then St. Catherine’s Monastery. When the monastery’s monks refused to host him, he proceeded to al-Farma which he seized and pillaged. On his way back to Jerusalem, he fell sick and died in al-’Areesh (1118). Taking advantage of the decrepitude of the Fatimid state, Nour-ed-Deen, ruler of Aleppo was competing with the Crusaders over the capture of Egypt . Armies of both warring parties passed through Sinai on their way to Egypt.

Both armies finally clashed in the Nile Valley, and the confrontation ended up in the seizure of Egypt and the rise of the Ayubid state in Egypt and Greater Syria. As the pivotal link between both centres of the state in Cairo and Damascus, Sinai was subject of great attention on the part of an-Nasser Salah ad-Deen (Saladin) al-Ayyoubi. To secure it against possible attack by the Crusaders, well-fortified castles were built there.