Sharm el Sheikh ghost town still home for UK expat retirees

Published:  29 Dec at 6 PM
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Formerly a haven for Brit expat retirees and British holidaymakers, Sharm el Sheikh is still beautiful, but it’s now all but deserted.

Known as the jewel in the Red Sea crown and the ‘Pearl of the Red Sea’, Sharm is as close to being a ghost town as it’s possible to get. Once equally popular with UK expat retirees and British holidaymakers, the resort’s once booming tourist industry is now non-existent, the hotels are closed and direct flights from the UK are banned along with the land route through the Sinai Peninsula. Tight security welcomes those who’ve managed to get there, enforced by a ‘ring of steel’ cordon.

Tourist arrivals have, unsurprisingly, slumped by 70 per cent since the terrorism-inspired downing of Metrojet plane in 2015, and UK expats who moved there for a life of sun and sea can be occasionally seen wandering along the deserted beaches. Tourist arrivals are limited to Egyptians, Jordanians and Ukrainians, far too few to support the previous visitor-based businesses. A few bars and stores have managed to stay open, but the glitz and glamour is gone.

One retired British expat said he’d moved to Sharm to be able to live on his meagre British state pension and has no desire to go back to the UK. He said living in the almost-empty resort isn’t for everyone, but added he still loves it and manages to make a little extra by DJ’ing in a local bar. The only Europeans who’re still coming are those who knew and loved the town in its heyday.

The locals who made their livings by tourism, however, aren’t loving it – one told reporters there were ‘ no Russkies, no English and no money’. Sharm’s original attraction was the amazing Red Sea marine life which drew divers by the thousand to see for themselves the undersea wonders. Most of the dive companies are now closed, with just a few still catering for the vastly reduced numbers of visitors.

At night, all the lights still come on, loud music is still heard, but the obvious dearth of customers shows in empty shopping malls and shuttered restaurants. The few British expats left have the entire town almost to themselves.
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