The South Sinai city of Saint Catherine is currently recording the lowest temperature in Egypt at -4 degrees Celsius, with several inches of snow coating the ancient town.
This sort of weather is typical for Saint Catherine around this time of year.
The town is famous for its heritage sites including St. Catherine’s Monastery and Mount Sinai, the top of which is more than 2,000 metres above sea level. Tourists usually climb Mount Sinai over night to enjoy spectacular views of the rocky landscape, especially at sunrise.
The site also attracts religious tourism from all over the world, as it is considered an important destination for followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The St. Catherine area is also famous for its mountains and high-altitude desert ecosystem, which is home to many rare species living in valleys, natural pools, springs, creeks and narrow canyons. Tourists can also visit uniquely beautiful Bedouin gardens in the valleys surrounding the mountains.
The snowfall on St. Catherine has not affected the influx of tourists to Mount Sinai, many of whom visit the St. Catherine Monastery to exercise religious Coptic rituals.
Geologist Mohamed Qutb, director-general of the South Sinai Protected Areas, told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that with the melting of the snows that accumulate this time of year, the water seeps into the ground and feeds underground reservoirs on which the city relies heavily. This water feeds agriculture and provides drinking water.
St. Catherine is located amid giant granite rocks of the South Sinai Peninsula at the edge of the El-Tur Mountains and at the foot of Sinai's high mountain region.
Mount Sinai is the highest point in Egypt, with breathtaking views across the mountains to the Red Sea.
Hisham Kamel, an official in the city council of St. Catherine, says that the city is unique in Egypt during the winter season.
Kamel pointed out that that the snowy weather at St. Catherine provides an opportunity to attract tourism by organising various winter activities.