Hurghada has grown from a sleepy fishing village in the early 1980s into one of the biggest resort cities on the Red Sea, with over 40,000 hotel rooms. Prior to the 2011 uprising, its clear waters and world-class reefs drew over 2.5 million tourists a year, generating about US$3 billion and providing jobs for 250,000 residents and temporary workers.
However, the resort has grown up in the shadow of oil development. Over 180 offshore platforms dot the Gulf of Suez, squeezing the last drops from maturing subsea oil fields.
Leaking well heads, “routine” spills and passing Suez Canal tanker traffic have destroyed coral reefs and blackened beaches in the northern gulf.