Al-Quseir is a town of skinny alleyways hemmed in by houses washed in a rainbow of watercolours, slowly peeling and fading away. Some places are more of an atmosphere than a set of mark-off-the-tick-list sights and Al-Quseir is one of these.
It’s a town of pastel-hued, creaky doors, and proudly bright hajj pilgrimage paintings stamped onto walls; where the crumbling coral-block architecture comes complete with wooden balconies of delicate mashrabiya screens, hung with lines of washing flapping in the wind. Once you’ve untangled yourself from the lane-way labyrinth there is the surprise of finding the sea, spreading outwards from the empty beach. The quiet only broken by the yells and cries of young boys, glistening on the pier, egging each other on in daredevil dives.
Once a major gateway to Arabia, the grand Ottoman fort now lies in ruins and the only sign of activity at the port are a few old fishermen mending nets. This sleepy backwater is a little seen part of Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera. Rag-tag Hurghada and glitzy El Gouna with their gaggles of tourists are only an hour up the coast but Al-Quseir has somehow missed the tourism boat. With the peace only punctuated by the trilling of a bicycle’s bell as it zigzags through the winding back streets, this is a place apart from the rest of the Red Sea coast.