Dahab (دهب) is a town in Egypt, located some 85 km (53 miles) north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Gulf of Aqaba and 175 km south from Taba, near the southern tip of Sinai. It is a place that many have fallen in love with over the years, and return to time & time again.
Dahab was once an isolated coastal village inhabited only by the local Bedouin. As little as 30 years ago, there were fewer than 30 Bedouin families in Dahab. Like the Bedouin inland, they had a self-sustaining lifestyle but in Dahab this was based on fishing as well as traditional goat herds. During the summer, many inland Bedouin came to Dahab for fishing and to collect dates, and to enjoy life by the sea. To this day, favourite presents from Dahab (for the inland Bedouin) are dried fish & dates.
Dahab’s isolated location, idyllic setting and laid-back Bedouin hospitality made it a favourite destination for all who stumbled upon it. In the beginning (1970s), this was mainly Israeli soldiers or people from the kibbutz during their leave. During the 1980s it turned into a hippie hangout, and in the 1990s adventure enthusiasts from around the world began to discover Dahab’s natural wonders. The combination of Red Sea & Sinai desert make Dahab perfect for world class windsurfing, scuba diving, freediving, rock climbing & of course desert trekking with the Bedouin. Add to this cheap accommodation on or near the beach, inexpensive food and drink and a relaxed atmosphere, and you have a heady enticement for the young and young at heart.
Today’s Dahab has evolved into an “alternative resort” – the home of independent & adventurous travellers, but also with some more upmarket resorts & hotels. Most of the latter are in the Laguna area or outlying. For some people, this mix is part of Dahab’s charm (“everyone welcome”), others regard the mix up as a problem: Prices in Assalah are artificially increased which makes it less and less interesting for backpackers, though some locally-run camps still keep affordable. In contrast to that, many package tourists and families won’t feel comfortable with the lacking conveniences and the all-handmade-look among the hippies. Note the grotesque, forever unfinished concrete structures as a sign of this mismanagment.
Still, for everyone with an open mind, Dahab is definitely worth a visit and a place to fall in love with. Particularly in the old part of Dahab (Masbat & Mashraba), you will rarely find a visitor who comes only once to Dahab. To many people this has become a second home.