Raʾs Naṣrānī

Raʾs Naṣrānī

▪ inlet and cape, Egypt
formerly (until 1982)  Sharm ash Shaykh , also spelled  Sharm el-Sheikh , Hebrew  Mifraẕ Shelomo , English  Solomon's Bay 

      small inlet and cape on the southeastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula. Located in Janūb Sīnāʾ muḥāfaẓah (governorate), Egypt, Raʾs Naṣrānī was occupied by the Israelis from 1967 to 1982. The Hebrew name is an allusion to King Solomon's fleets, which presumably passed through the adjacent Strait of Tiran on their way from the port of Ezion-geber, at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba, to the land of Ophir (1 Kings 9), which has been variously identified as India, Arabia, or Ethiopia.

      Raʾs Naṣrānī was uninhabited throughout most of historic times, but it gained modern importance owing to its strategic situation commanding the narrow entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba. The entrance is 14 miles (23 km) northeast of Raʾs Naṣrānī's bay, at the Strait of Tiran. The strait, which is blocked by islets and coral reefs, is hemmed in by Raʾs Naṣrānī's cape on the west and by Tīrān Island on the east. After Israel's War of Independence (1948–49), Egyptian guns were installed in the area to prevent shipping from reaching Elat, Israel's only port on the Gulf of Aqaba. The installations were captured by Israelis in the Sinai Campaign of 1956, and the bay and strait were guarded by a United Nations Emergency Force from 1957 to 1967. Egypt's withdrawal of the UN force and its closure of the straits in May 1967 helped precipitate the Six-Day War of June 1967. Following that war, Israel again occupied Raʾs Naṣrānī and its environs until Israeli forces withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in the early 1980s.

      Raʾs Naṣrānī was developed as a recreational and tourist site by the Israeli administration, and Egypt has continued this program, converting the airport located nearby to civilian use. A highway has been built from Elat to Raʾs Naṣrānī (1971). In 1972 Ophira, a new town, was built in the area.

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Universalium. 2010.

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