By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS
Enjoying a day at the beach has always been something fun and affordable for families in Egypt. Who wouldnâ€™t want to take a dip in the Red Sea or frolic in the sun soaked sand? But for many residents of Egypt a day at the beach, like so many other commodities in their life, is becoming unaffordable. Now anyone wanting to spend the day at the beach must pay to play.
The reason being is that wealthy developers and governorates of the coastal property are turning public beaches into private ones, excluding the general public from setting foot on the property. Egypt, with its stunning scenery, is fast becoming a playground for the elite. Chalets and 5-Star hotels are going up seemingly over night. And while the public does have limited access to the now private beaches, in the form of an entrance fee of about $18, it is still an unaffordable rate for many families in a country where 65% of the population can barely make ends meet.
More than 100 meters of the Egyptian coast from Alexandria to Marsa Matruh have now been cordoned off from the public. There is not a single public beach in the whole stretch of land. The beaches have also been renamed to further woo tourists. Names like Oxygen, Paradise and Bianki don the most exclusive beaches whom in turn shell out thousands of dollars to the governorates to rent the space. Then the costs are passed on to visitors in the form of high entrance, food and comfort fees. Most of the private beaches will give beach-goers a chair for free, but if they want a towel, sunglasses or even a glass of water they should be ready to pay through the nose.
The private beaches are popular for several reasons. The Red Sea is close to Cairo, which is one of the biggest cities in the World with high-flying executives and wealthy Egyptians seeking to shed the city for the weekend. Another attraction is womenâ€™s-only private beaches where women, who normally wear the face veil or burqa, can shed their everyday clothes in favor of a bikini so that they too can soak up the sun, sand and surf. And letâ€™s not forget about global tourists who visit Egypt year round to tour the Pyramids and enjoy activities like desert safaris.
The facilities and leisure activities on offer at Egyptâ€™s most prestigious private beaches are also a massive drawing point. Snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, windsailing and parasailing are just a few of the activities on offer. There are also several resorts and private villages like La Hacienda, Marabella and Marina that offer live concerts, 5-star restaurants, bars and dance clubs.
With a favorable climate, especially in the winter months which is notably warm, more and more of the Egyptian coastline will be developed not for locals to enjoy but rather to cater to those guests who have more disposable wealth to pay for even the simplest entertainment.
The days of the remaining public beaches are most definitely numbered, with newly categorized private beaches going directly under lock and key.