'Lights off' plan aims to boost Mt Sinai visitor numbers

Ahram Online, Sunday 1 Jul 2012

South Sinai town to turn off lights during full moon so tourists can enjoy moonlit climbs up Mount Sinai

St Catherine
Seen here is Saint Catherine's Monastery, founded by the Emperor St. Justinian the Great in 527, at the foot of Mount Sinai in Saint Catherine, Sinai, Egypt. The monastery is Greek Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Photo: AP).

Saint Catherine, a nature reserve and eco-friendly town in South Sinai, will turn off its light during the full moon in order to attract tourists to Mount Sinai.

On the 13th, 14th and 15th of each lunar month tourists will be able to enjoy the mountain scenery by moonlight without light pollution from the city.

Khaled Fouda, governor of South Sinai, agreed on Sunday to implement the initiative, which was proposed by the Saint Catherine Youth group, headed by Suleiman Mahmoud Farag of the El-Gabaleya tribe.

The proposal was also backed by the local population, hotels and tourist villages.  

"The moonlight reflecting on the mountains is beautiful and adds to tourists' enjoyment of the scenery," said Farag. "Turning off the lights will help attract more tourists in addition to the hundreds that climb Mount Sinai each day to enjoy the view from its peak."  

Bedouin communities traditionally hold outdoor weddings, traditional dances and celebrations when there is a full moon.

The move will also reduce energy consumption and help efforts to combat global warming.

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