El Gouna is an integrated town built over 36.9 million m2 stretching over 10km of the Red Sea coastline in Egypt and spreading across 36 islands and lagoons. El Gouna had its beginnings in one man’s search to find the most beautiful spot on the seaside to build a house and small boat jetty. Around two decades ago, Samih Sawiris, Chairman of Orascom Hotels & Development a subsidiary of Orascom Development, El Gouna’s parent company, found that beautiful spot, conveniently located just north of Hurghada on the west coast of the Red Sea. It wasn’t long before Sawiris’ friends, struck by the splendor of the azure waters and dramatic backdrop of mountains, asked to join him. In this way the town slowly blossomed into the vibrant community it is today, fulfilling Sawiris’ and OHD’s vision of “carving paradise out of the desert.”
Located 25 kilometers north of the Hurghada International Airport, El Gouna is only a 4-hour flight from Europe’s major capitals. Several major airline carriers operate weekly flights to Hurghada and El Gouna receives over 100,000 visitors a year from Germany, Belgium, the UK, France, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, and Poland. Today, El Gouna is home to 17 spectacular hotels constructed along 10 kilometers of beachfront and spreads across islands interlinked by lagoons. Neighborhoods of attractive villas and apartments bustle with the activity of entrepreneurs, artists, environmentalists, sports enthusiasts and other individuals and families from all over the world who have made El Gouna their permanent or vacation home. The town is easily accessed from Europe via the nearby Hurghada International Airport and boasts a superb infrastructure and excellent services as well as natural beaches and year-round sunshine.
El Gouna is immaculately maintained and has a wide variety of activities and entertainment options, world-class cuisine and an exciting nightlife. It is also the perfect jumping-off point to experience the many historical, archeological and cultural treasures of Egypt. These aspects, as well as the stunning natural and architectural beauty of the resort, combine to make El Gouna the Red Sea’s premier leisure destination.
El Gouna has been officially recognized as Egypt’s most environmentally-friendly holiday destination, and El Gouna management has worked hard in cooperation with local hotels, businesses, residents and visitors to maintain, protect, and preserve its unique environment. The town’s environmental programs and grassroots environmental organization paved the way for several awards, including the Green Globe and Travelife, and led to El Gouna’s selection as the pilot location for the Green Star Hotel Initiative.
The town has 17 hotels (2707 rooms) of different categories, 27,900 residential units, above 450 commercial outlets. Among the special facilities available in El Gouna are; a 18-hole championship golf course and another under construction, 3 marinas, above 100 restaurants and bars, shopping facilities, tennis academy, social gathering hotspots, a European standard hospital, schools, university facilities (American University Field Study Center and the TU Berlin El Gouna Campus), 9 diving centers and 6 kite surfing centers, a library, a church, a mosque, banks among others.
The town is now home to a population of between 22,000 to 24,000 permanent residents and visitors from all over the world, to whom it offers a wide range of international-standard facilities among them a landing strip.
Orascom says in terms of development, with all they have in El Gouna, surprisingly, they have only developed 30 percent of the land. The idea is to keep a close eye on the needs of the town’s residents and work on furnishing them in the most up-to-date manner. Of the total land area of 36.9 million sm2, it is only 14.7million m2 that has been developed, thus providing a large land bank for future development.
Last September, El Gouna saw the opening of the Technical University of Berlin’s first campus outside of Germany. This summer, in cooperation with Rixen Cableways, El Gouna will see the opening of its Water Sports Complex. And in 2014, it will have the opening of its second golf course as part of El Gouna’s gated residential community – Ancient Sands, also comprising a hotel and a clubhouse.
Orascom says that with its growing dedication to sustainability, El Gouna will only be fully developed when it is a Carbon-Free Destination. In addition to first-class amenities, year-round sunshine, picturesque scenery, El Gouna was chosen as the pilot destination for the Green Star Initiative, a partnership between the Group, the German consulting firm AGEG Consultants and the German Technical Cooperation and in 2008, eleven of the 14 hotels got certified as Green Star hotels.
Aesthetic Unity In Architecture
Great lengths have been taken to ensure that the town and its buildings conform to the highest architectural standards. Talented architects give El Gouna’s landscape its delicacy and character while ensuring that the entire town has a visual unity in which each neighborhood and hotel contributes its own unique flavor without detracting from the artistic whole of the resort.
The town’s perfect blend of traditional and modern elements and are the result of the dedication and work of an impressive list of prestigious architects. American Michael Graves, who has been the recipient of many of the architectural world’s highest awards, is responsible for designing several of El Gouna’s hotels as well as its Golf Club and Golf Villas, and the earth tones and sea-color splashes that characterize these projects help to set the tone of the resort.
Italian architect Alfredo Freda designed El Gouna’s attractive Marina town, the first of its kind on the Red Sea, as well as the popular and exclusive Tuscany-style Hill Villas. Shahab Mazhar, a prominent Egyptian architect, was inspired by Mediterranean influences in his creation of the beachfront White Villas, and the beautiful Nubian Villas are the work of the award-winning architects Ramy El-Dahan and Ahmad Hamdy, who also hail from Egypt.
The town’s location offers good access to Egypt’s many natural wonders, historical sites, and archeological treasures. The ancient temples of Luxor and Aswan and the pyramids of Cairo are only a bus or plane trip away, and Bedouin guides are always available for tours through the rugged Eastern Desert region. Day and overnight trips to Luxor, Aswan, Cairo, and Sinai are easily arranged from El Gouna. For a sample of trips on offer, see our excursions page or contact your preferred tour operator.
Green Star Hotel
The Green Star Hotel Initiative aims to improve environmental standards in the Egyptian hotel industry. El Gouna has served as the pilot location, and the progress that has been made over the course of the previous year has illustrated that a national ecolabel can serve as a valuable tool in combating the environmental risks posed by the country’s rapidly expanding tourist sector. Green Star Hotel is the first ecolabel designed to address the specific conditions of hotels and resorts in the Egyptian tourist industry with the aim of minimizing their impact on the environment while maximizing their appeal to foreign guests.
Green Globe Awards
These prestigious awards are bestowed around the world by Green Globe International, a non-profit organization that promotes environmentally and socially responsible tourism. Currently, all hotels in El Gouna have received Green Globes.
El Gouna’s grassroots environmental organization was founded in 2002 by a group of concerned and caring residents. The goals of Green Gouna are to help develop the resort as an ecotourism destination. Green Gouna pursues this goal by involving the entire community in protection and preservation through education, recycling, clean-up campaigns, festivals and the establishment and the enforcement of environmental standards and guidelines.
Earth Day is celebrated bi-annually to increase public awareness of and support for important conservation issues. There is an ongoing push in El Gouna to eradicate the use of plastic bags, replacing them with recyclable paper bags or other re-usable materials. There are some installations of recycling bins for glass, paper, plastic and cans in El Gouna. Conservation awareness campaigns directed to staff, residents and visitors. Establishment of an educational photo gallery on El Gouna wildlife and installation and maintenance of mooring systems for diving boats in cooperation with the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA).
El Gouna Farm
El Gouna has installed farming projects to locally grow organic products and produces a great variety of highly beneficial organic fare. The farm has received NOP certification (under US National Organic Standards) for organic produce as well as certification from the Centre of Organic Agriculture in Egypt, which operates in accordance with EU standards.
The town’s food waste goes to feeding farm animals, while organic waste is used as fertilizer for the surrounding landscape. As well as goats, ducks, sheep, pigeons, turkeys. El Gouna Farm is also famous for its fine quality dates, olives and Jojoba oil which are later used in hair products required by the hotels.
El Gouna Fish Farm
El Gouna fish farm is actually made from the salty water coming out of the desalination process. So few ponds were made near the desalination station, with beautiful plantation around them, It’s a place used by Gouniees to spend some family time in the gardens surrounding the ponds & teaching their children how to fish. There are actually plans to extend the greenery & designate an area for BBQ picnics.
El Gouna produces its own water by desalinating sea and well water and utilizing treated waste water for irrigation of the golf course and greenery throughout the resort. Guests are requested to participate in these efforts by asking hotel housekeeping to change room towels and bed linens only every other day.
Recycling and Waste Management
El Gouna practices garbage separation and recycles materials locally and in collaboration with other cities in Egypt. The administration also upholds existing national legislation regarding the dumping of construction materials.
El Gouna practices garbage separation and recycles materials locally, a zero-waste management system has been implemented and over 85percent of El Gouna waste is recycled. El Gouna‘s Solid Waste and Recycling Plant was established in the early 1990s and consists of three factories, one biogas unit, two stores and a gallery. 50 tons of garbage and 20 different kinds of solid waste arrive at the plant daily in 20 trucks.
Solid waste is sorted and used in recycling projects such as organic fertilizers/compost, recycled plastic hangers, bricks, paper bags, envelopes, bio gas, glass recycling, recycled plastic bags and plastic brick packaging. The town’s solid waste quantities on a monthly basis include water bottles 5t, colored bottles 2t, glass 35t, brick packaging 5t, beverage cans 5t, agricultural waste 50t, dry batteries 200 pieces, aluminum foil 1t, compostable kitchen waste 30t, non-compostable kitchen waste 30t, metals (aluminum, steel, copper, bronze, brass, magnesium, zinc) 0.5t, carton 30t, dash paper 40t and plastics 20t.
There is also an ongoing campaign in El Gouna to eliminate the use of plastic bags, and replace them with recyclable paper bags or other re-usable materials. Recycling bins for public use have been installed throughout El Gouna for glass, paper, plastic and cans.
Beach and Underwater Cleanup
This annual program entails organized events on and around the Red Sea. Residents and guests meet up at the marina to take part in underwater and beach cleanup duties at selected locations. At the same time local residents and guests work together at local sites doing beach cleanup.
Awareness and Education
El Gouna’s Eco-Festivals have helped promote the Green Gouna campaign and enlisted the participation of local busi nesses, hotels, and residents. Past festivals have included educational seminars and activities on conservation as a means for participants to learn how to value and protect their environment and living space.
El Gouna’s uniqueness as a destination lies in the fact that the town serves both as a vacation resort and as a well-established community, fully-equipped to meet the needs of its members. The town is home to a creative and diverse community of entrepreneurs, artists, environmentalists, sports enthusiasts, and families.
El Gouna has two hubs of activity. The first is its downtown (Kafr El Gouna) and (Tamr Henna). Down town is an area styled after a small Upper Egyptian village and home to shops, cafes, free open air Cinema, bars, restaurants and an aquarium. Tamr Henna is considered the town’s center, it has El Gouna’s information center, the post office, super markets, barber shops & hair dressers, 3 banks, 2 ATM machines, two photography shops & a pharmacy, shops, restaurants & the café’s and the center point for transportation means with the Bus station, the limousine office & the Tok Tok parking area just 20 meters from the piazza. The second is its bustling marina town (Abu Tig Marina), home to a variety of hotels as well as El Gouna’s most exclusive restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and duty free shop.