Sun, sea and privacy at Egypt’s ‘only for women’ beaches

Updated 18 August 2019

Sun, sea and privacy at Egypt’s ‘only for women’ beaches

  • Many women-only beaches are located on Egypt’s north coast stretching from Alexandria to Marsa Matrouh

CAIRO: Beaches are a prime summer destination for Egyptians seeking entertainment and an escape from high temperatures. But for a growing number of women seeking privacy, women-only beaches are becoming increasingly popular.

Few people realize there are women-only beaches in Egypt. Some prefer them for religious reasons or simply to enjoy a sense of personal freedom. Cameras and taking photos are prohibited, and the lifeguards and DJs are women.

Many women-only beaches are located on Egypt’s north coast stretching from Alexandria to Marsa Matrouh.

One of the best-known is La Femme in Marina, a resort in Alamein, where religious songs are played, photography is banned and belly dancing parties are held. There is a daily entry fee of 250 Egyptian pounds ($15) and 300 Egyptian pounds on Fridays.

Khaled Fouad, La Femme’s owner, said that the beach is simply a business project. 

He refuses to label it an “Islamic beach” since this would deter non-Muslim women from entering. The main aim is to provide the highest level of privacy for women who want to enjoy it.

Yashmak Beach in the Montazah resort, 80 km from Alexandria, was Egypt’s first women-only beach when it opened in 2004. It offers music and Zumba dancing with similar entry fees.

The beach was the idea of Waleed Mustafa, who told Arab News that “we can’t forget that we are in a conservative society and we have to respond to the needs of such a society.”

Beach management apply strict rules. Bags are carefully searched to make sure there are no cameras.

For most women who go to these beaches, it is a rare chance to wear swimming suits, far from the prying eyes of men.

Hadeer Ahmed, an Egyptian bank employee, said she prefers Yashmak Beach and now finds it difficult to swim at mixed beaches.

Another favorite, Flamingo Beach, is located in Marina 5 resort and is open from noon to 7 p.m. The beach has Zumba dancing, and entry is 300 Egyptian pounds on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 350 Egyptian pounds on other days.

Another women-only beach is at Amwaj resort, next to Club C. Entry is free for resort unit owners.

Faten Bahr, an accountant from Alexandria, said that she enjoys the freedom women-only beaches offer.

“I can do anything I want. I can swim or dance, something I couldn’t do in mixed beaches,” she said.

Yasmin Fakhr, a housewife, said that she hopes to see similar beaches opening in Alexandria, and resorts including Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.


#OurHomesAreOpen: Lebanese offer spare beds to Beirut blast victims

Updated 5 min 14 sec ago

#OurHomesAreOpen: Lebanese offer spare beds to Beirut blast victims

  • Social media users have freely offered up spare beds and empty properties to victims
  • Others shared contacts of doctors who were available to suture wounds in their clinics as hospitals were overwhelmed

AMMAN: Using social media, hundreds of Lebanese have offered shelter to strangers displaced by a devastating blast, which Beirut’s governor said may have left 250,000 people homeless.
Tuesday evening’s explosion in port warehouses storing explosive material was the most powerful ever to rip through the capital, killing some 110 people, injuring about 4,000 and tearing the facades off buildings and overturning cars.
Using the hashtag #OurHomesAreOpen in Arabic and English, social media users have freely offered up spare beds and empty properties to victims, providing their names, phone numbers and details on the size and location of the accommodation.
“I wanted to do something about it, I was going crazy,” said the founder of the platform ThawraMap, originally used to identify protest locations, which is curating a list of available beds, including free accommodation from hotels.
“Today a lot more people are going to be homeless. They go to their family or friends for a day or two and then what are they going to do?” the anti-government activist told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, who declined to publish his name for safety.
The disaster — which rattled windows about 160km away — has united a city still scarred by civil war three decades ago and reeling from a financial crisis rooted in corruption and economic mismanagement and a surge in coronavirus infections.
ThawraMap, or Revolution Map, has been sharing its shelter list on Twitter and Instagram, along with a map of more than 50 locations offered so far, ranging from people with extra beds in their homes to hotels providing up to 40 rooms.
Lebanon on Wednesday declared a two-week state of emergency in Beirut where some 250,000 people lost their homes in the blast, which has caused $3 to $5 billion in damage, governor Marwan Abboud told local media after taking a tour of the city.
Other city residents have been using the hashtag to make their own offers, with some volunteering transport as well in a painful reminder of the 1975 to 1990 civil war that tore the nation apart and destroyed swathes of Beirut.
“For anyone in need of a house, I have an empty bedroom with an en suite bathroom, welcoming Beirut and its people,” wrote one Twitter user Wajdi Saad.
Others shared contacts of doctors who were available to suture wounds in their clinics as hospitals were overwhelmed.
The crisis has stoked anger against Lebanon’s political elite and raised fears of hunger as it wrecked the main entry point for imports for some 6 million people, including almost 1 million Syrian refugees, according to United Nations figures.
“Beirut is more than cursed,” tweeted one user named Reyna.
“The first morning after the tragedy: nothing in Beirut is in one piece. Not the streets, not homes, not people, nothing.”
President Michel Aoun told the nation the government was “determined to investigate and expose what happened as soon as possible, to hold the responsible and the negligent accountable, and to sanction them with the most severe punishment.”