North Sinai Governorate

North Sinai Governorate

North Sinai Governorate is one of the Sinai Peninsula governorates of Egypt. The province is administered by a governor appointed by the President of Egypt and serves at the president’s discretion. North Sinai takes up a strategic location, whether at the regional or the national level, as it is the eastern bulwark of Egypt. Its capital is the city of El Arish.


North Sinai governorate lies in the northeastern part of the country and encompasses the northern half of the Sinai Peninsula. It is bordered in the north by the Mediterranean Sea, in the south by South Sinai Governorate, in the west by Port Said, Ismailia, and Suez Governorates, and in the east by the Gaza Strip (Rafah Governorate) and Israel (Southern District).


A significant economic activity of the Bedouin tribes has been smuggling. They have been active smuggling into the Gaza Strip supplies and weapons using cross-border tunnels and assisting illegal migrants into Israel. Therefore, these activities have been curtailed by the Egyptian government’s crackdown on smuggling into the Gaza Strip and building the Israel-Egypt barrier.

North Sinai has since 2011 been significantly affected by the Sinai insurgency and measures by government forces to combat it, which has resulted in many casualties. For example, on October 14, 2016, twelve Egyptian troops were killed at a checkpoint near El Arish. On November 27, 2017, a mosque in the village of Al-Rawda was attacked by roughly 40 shooters, killing at least 305 and injuring up to 128 others. Consequently, this action made it the deadliest terror attack in Egyptian history.

Administrative Division

North Sinai comprises six administrative Markazes (regions), including six cities; al-Arish, Bir al-Abed, Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, al-Hasana and Nekhel, further subdivided into 85 rural local units. The largest Markaz area is Bir al-Abed, followed by Rafah.

Cities and towns

  • El Arish is the capital and largest city, with 164,830 inhabitants as of 2012.
  • Nekhel
  • Rafah
  • Bir al-Abed
  • Hassana (see Raid on Bir el Hassana and the map included therein; “bir” means “a well”)
  • Besides, Sheikh Zuweid

Arish City

Arish or el-Arish is the capital and largest city of the North Sinai Governorate of Egypt and the largest city on the entire Sinai Peninsula, lying on the Mediterranean coast 344 kilometres (214 mi) northeast of Cairo. It borders the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Agricultural Activity

North Sinai principally depends on agricultural development. The total cultivated land area in the governorate reaches about 164 thousand acres. Thus it represents approximately 1.81% of Egypt’s total area of farmlands. Most agricultural lands are found in Delta Wadi El-Arish and east of el-Arish, relying on rainwater and Sheikh Jaber Canal. North Sinai is famous for its distinct agricultural production of vegetables and fruits, such as peaches, figs, grapes, palm, olive, and almond. Moreover, these exportations have attained a high competitive advantage.

Industrial Activity

There are some industry and investment opportunities in North Sinai. The most important industrial areas are; the central Sinai region, the craft industrial area in al-Masaid, and the medium-industries area in Bir al-Abed. Moreover, the governorate is enriched with a buffer stock and vast reserves of mineral resources. These stocks constitute a fundamental pillar for establishing numerous and varied industries to enhance the chances of the governorate to promote the industry.

The most important sectors are mineral raw materials, such as; marble, sand, silicon, limestone, coal, natural gas, sulfur, yellow sand, clay, gypsum, dolomite, stony soil and salt, in addition to the high-level production of fish such as sea-bream, sea-bass, the Mullet (family Mugilidae). Moreover, among the most significant industries are craftsmanship, such as; woven rugs, furnishings, clothing and handicrafts, and palm-based industries. Tourism investments include integrated services, tourist villages, hotels, marina yacht clubs, festivals, herbal medical centres and bird watching.

Industrial zones

According to the Egyptian Governing Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), in affiliation with the Ministry of Investment (MOI), the following industrial zones are located in the governorate:

  • Bir Al Abd
  • Al Masa’eed Artisans
  • Besides, the Heavy industrial zone – Arish


In 2013/2014, schools reached 564, including 24 private and 26 technical schools and 152 Azharite institutes for pre-university education. Moreover, there are five Suez Canal University faculties and an institute for post-graduate studies.

Research and Health Centers

North Sinai includes two university research centres, kidney dialysis centres, five public and central hospitals, and many private hospitals.


North Sinai incorporates eight palaces of culture, 23 libraries and six cinemas. Additionally, it embraces the al-Arish National Museum, founded in 2008, comprising eight halls and embodying the history of Sinai through the span of primitive human, ancient, medieval and modern eras. Furthermore, the governorate embraces the Sinai Heritage Museum, established in 1991.

Youth and Sport

Youth centres reach 66, comprising 46 libraries, 18 sports clubs, 18 playgrounds, and al-Arish Sports Stadium.

Monuments and Tourism

North Sinai’s tourism potential varies according to the diversity of historical, environmental, cultural, and tourism heritage, exemplified in ancient roads, fortresses and historical cities. Moreover, diversified prerequisites of tourism attraction include natural and historical factors, such as transit and yacht tourism, natural oases and bird watching. Among the most important types of tourism available in Sinai are; coastal, therapeutic, historical, religious, desert, eco-tourism, yachting and water sports tourism).

Archaeological Areas

Pelusium Archeological Area (Tel el-Farma)

It is considered the most important archaeological site, located about 15 km to the north of the Balouza village on the road to East Qantara in Northern Sinai. It includes several significant archaeological hills and the central area of the ancient city; many hills, namely; Tel el-Makhzan, Tel el-Kanaes and Tel al-Shohada, lie next to the Pelusium. The modern Excavations revealed some baths, a large amphitheatre dating back to the Roman era, and a Roman castle that persisted until the Islamic period.

The town also hosts some archaeological hills, such as; Tel al-Mahmdiat, directly located on the Mediterranean in Rommana village, featuring some of the underwater architectural remnants on the coast, and Tel al-Karama, dating back to the Roman and Islamic eras. Additionally, it includes Tel Qasrawit, which features the remnants of the city dating back to the Coptic period, and Tel el-Darawish, one of the archaeological sites dating back to the modern dynasty of the Pharaonic era. Among other hills are; Tel Filossiat, Tel Suedat, Tel Hephen, Tel Kharoub, Tel Zeizaa, Tel Kawthar, Tel set, and Tel Aselij.


El-Maghara Castle

El-Maghara Castle is located south of El-Arish and is approximately above sea level by 100 m.

El-Haven Castle

El-Haven Castle is 20 km far from Al-Arish.

Arish Castle

Arish Castle was built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1560 and lies to the southwest of el-Arish. It witnessed remarkable historical events such as the Treaty of el-Arish in 1800 between the Turks and the French campaign.

Nekhel Castle

Nekhel Castle is a square-shaped five-towered castle that dates back to Sultan Qansuh Ghouri.

Tina Castle

Tina Castle is 32 km far from Balouza-Port Fouad Road. It is one of the major ports in the Mamluk era. The great octagonal-shaped castle dates back to Sultan Qansuh Ghouri 1508 AD, including many military and pigeon towers and a large mosque.

Om Moufarrej Castle

Om Moufarrej Castle dates back to the Mamluk era. It represents a fortified military tower.

Katia Castle

Katia Castle is 65 km to East Qantara on the old Royal sand Road pursued by Amr ibn al-Aas during the Islamic Conquest of Egypt. It is one of the most important commercial cities in the Mamluk era.

Natural Reserves

El-Ahrash Reserve

El-Ahrash Reserve is located in the extreme northeast of Egypt in Rafah on 6 km2. It is famous for its unique presentation of dunes and acacia trees.

Zaraniq Reserve

Zaraniq Reserve is located on the Mediterranean coast of North Sinai and includes the eastern part of Lake Bardawil. This 250 km2 reserve exists to the north by the Mediterranean, to the south by Al-Arish-Qantara Highway, and to the west by Lake Bardawil.

National Day

North Sinai Governorate celebrates its National Day on April 25, commemorating the liberation of Sinai in 1982.


The emblem consists of many logos; the cogwheel symbolizes the industry, the olive branch refers to peace, the tower embodies refining oil wells, and the fish refers to fishing activity.


North Sinai has a unique Mediterranean climate, like desert and semi-desert climate southwards. It decreases in the south and the west and increases northwards. Its temperatures range between 10 C in winter and 24 C in summer.


Its total area reaches 27,564 km2, representing about 2.7% of Egypt’s area. The population density reaches about 0.01 thousand inhabitants/km2. Thus, the population density is 15 inhabitants per square kilometre.


According to population estimates, in 2015, most residents in the province lived in urban areas, with an urbanization rate of 60.2%. Out of 434,781 people, 261,686 lived in urban areas, and 173,095 lived in rural areas.

The population reached 445 811 in March 2016.