There’s no shortage of sand in the MENA region.
I’ve always felt, though, that the beaches are underrated. In fact, on a global scale, they barely register.
So, for the unsung shores of the region, here are a few of my faves.
First, to Egypt. There’s the famous Red Sea Riviera and all that, but there’s a lot more coastline here and you really don’t have to throw in your beach towel with the sheep in Sharm – much as I love it.
There are hidden gems in Egypt, known to few outside the hardcore diving community. One such is Nuweiba Beach.
This idyllic hideaway is on the eastern side of the Sinai Peninsula, about 90 miles north of Sharm.
Apart from the dreamy ocean and broad white sand, you can rent huts in Bedouin-style camps at Nuweiba and basically fall off the map.
Unfortunately, I’m a bit long in the tooth for falling off the map, so a quick word for the glitzy resorts of El Gouna and Soma Bay, both on the western Red Sea coast – they are both five-star fabulous, with pristine and tranquil white-sand beaches and the bonus of golf, quality eateries… I could go on.
Next up is Essaouira Beach in southern Morocco – much loved by surfers. Truth be told, though, it’s the laid-back nature of Essaouira town, with its arty vibe and French piazzas, that makes this beach a winner.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is The Quay Club at the Mina A’ Salam hotel in Dubai. There are a lot of private stretches of the vast Jumeirah Beach, but this two-kilometre chunk of bliss could well be the coolest.
If you find the notion of paying to get sand between your toes when there’s a perfectly good public beach next door slightly offensive, you may not warm to The Quay Club.
But if you’ve got it, you’ll want to flaunt it here… the water’s so warm here you could fall asleep in it. Don’t though or you’ll miss the butler service, chic private cabañas, elegant beach bar and the opportunity to rub shoulders with the blessed.
Of course, finding the perfect natural beach is nigh-on impossible. That’s not a problem in Dubai, though, where perfect beaches are simply created.
Al Mamzar Park is a man-made beach resort offering all the good stuff – tranquility, great sand, incredible warm calm water, lots of greenery and all the home comforts Dubai is famous for.
There’s also piped music, which some may find disconcerting…but I like it.