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.