Dahab, Egypt for Beginners Like Me

I’m pretty familiar with the Middle East by now, having traveled and lived in this region on and off for almost four years. Please believe me when I tell you that Dahab, Egypt, where I sit and write this, is the most comfortable Arab culture in which I’ve ever landed.

The Red Sea as seen through a restaurant in Dahab

Dahab is a Bedouin village of approximately 10,000 people in the south Sinai and an extremely popular tourist destination – if you’re someone who’s traveled to Egypt previously or have a lot of time to spend here. If you’re a first timer or have less than two weeks, you’ll probably be inclined to spend your time exploring pyramids, temples and ruins elsewhere in Egypt, understandably. If you want deep unceasingly relaxation, though, the Sinai is the place to be and nowhere does it better than Dahab.

The Dahab most people are interested in is its main drag, a seemingly endless paved boardwalk running along the Red Sea, with shops and and restaurants all along the way and the desert hills of Saudi Arabia looming across the water.

The boardwalk of Dahab, Egypt

The boardwalk is pretty empty nowadays, as many people have been scared away from Egypt due to its revolution early this year and its aftershocks. That is a shame, as Dahab and indeed all of Egypt are still safe.

Dahab is Arabic for “Gold,” perhaps due to the color of the sand, or the sky at sunset. It is an apt name, as many people seem to think they have struck gold when they travel here. Some end up leaving their lives back home and moving to Dahab permanently.

Fortunately, there is more to Dahab than Western comfort restaurants and touristy shops. There is real Egyptian, Bedouin and expat life, worlds that I am just uncovering for myself. In my neighborhood in the Asala section of Dahab, there are many little shops – groceries, hairdressers, phone stores and even a little shop called Drinks which sells – yes, alcohol. Egypt is a Muslim country, but its former government was secular and its current government or lack thereof is likewise secular so liquor flows much more freely, particularly in Dahab, than you will find elsewhere in the Arab world.

In this area there is a sculpture of two jumping dolphins, which I’d never really noticed until this morning I saw multiple little boys playing on it, as Bedouin men sat trying to shade themselves beneath.

Boys playing with dolphin decoration in Asala, Dahab, Sinai, Egypt

Locals, expats and tourists seemed to all come together at the popular outdoor Friday market, where I headed last Friday afternoon. Here I bought the first pair of jeans I’ve worn in over a year, a skirt and a blouse, all for a modest donation to go towards spaying and neutering some of the local cats and dogs. The Friday market and I are off to a good start.

Friday market in Dahab, Egypt

Some places that rate high on the tourist scale fall flat with me. Dahab, though, has already won a place in my heart.

14 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Candice says:

    Honestly didn’t known Egypt could be such a beachy paradise. I’m dying for that sunshine right now!

  2. Octa says:

    Hey Sabina, u are still in Egypt? in year ago, i saw u re article talks about ure travel in egypt..in today it is hanging on. great Sabina.. u re really traveler :D

  3. Sabina says:

    The shoreline of the Sinai definitely is a beachy paradise. I’ve heard other spots elsewhere in Egypt are also beautiful, like Hurghada. In time I’ll learn for myself. :)

  4. Sabina says:

    Hi, Octa :) I’m not still here but here again. I love it! Thanks for noticing!

  5. Sophie says:

    Next time in Egypt, we’ll definitely stay in Dahab!

  6. Sabina says:

    It’s a great choice, Sophie. I’m sure you’ve already seen all of the historical sites at least once, so it’s time to relax in Dahab!

  7. Laura says:

    Oh, I’m jealous! I went to Egypt in 2008 and traveled through most of the country except the coast. I’d love to go back to go to Dahab!

  8. Sabina says:

    Hi Laura :) It’s such an exotic yet comfortable place. When you come to Egypt again, you must travel to Dahab!

  9. I love Dahab! Brings back so many memories, we had nice time there in 2008. Aaaah, I want to go back! Thanks for the trip down memory lane… We did a canyon jeep safari from there through the desert which was pretty cool. Oh, and do me a favour and hike Mt Sinai, apparently the views are amazing, and I thoroughly regret not doing it when I was there (too lazy to hike through the night)…

  10. Sabina says:

    Oh, Sarah, you should absolutely climb Mt. Sinai if (when) you return. I climbed it in the middle of the night the first time I came to the Sinai and loved every second of it! And I’m happy I was able to take you down memory lane with this post :)

  11. Sarah says:

    I’m considering a trip to dahab this April and haven’t travelled alone as a female before, I’m very nervous but desperate to go, is it really OK?

  12. Sabina says:

    Hi Sarah – thank you for commenting. I apologize for taking so long to respond to you. There is nothing at all to be nervous about in Dahab, as it really is very, very laid back and peaceful. You’ll likely find the men who are selling things on the streets to be far less aggressive than elsewhere in Egypt.

    There have been many kidnappings on roads in the southern Sinai the past couple of months so you need to be careful when traveling in this region. I think in all cases those kidnapped were released unharmed in about 24 hours or less. Nevertheless, you don’t want to be kidnapped. I would book your overland trip to and from Dahab as well as any day or overnight trips in the Sinai with a reputable tour operator, and don’t be afraid of talking to them about any concerns you might have. I would recommend King Safari Dahab, as I’ve used them many times and they are excellent. Please realize that when you are in Dahab you will be safe. It’s a wonderful place and if you want to go, please do it!

  13. Hamza Helmy says:

    We wish to see you in Dahab again

    Since you liked Dahab the last time you were there, I wanted to invite you to stay at this new guesthouse. It is a top quality but easy on your wallet.. And it is managed by an MBA graduate.. How about that in Dahab :)

    Facebook.com/dahab.guest

  14. Sabina says:

    Hi Hamza – I am returning to Dahab next month. Thank you for telling me about this guesthouse.

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