Gulf of Aqaba

The Gulf of Aqaba (Arabic: خليج العقبة‎, Khalij al-Aqabah) or Gulf of Eilat (Hebrew: מפרץ אילת, Mifrats Eilat) is a large gulf at the northern tip of the Red Sea, east of the Sinai Peninsula and west of the Arabian mainland. Its coastline is divided between four countries: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

The Gulf of Aqaba
The Gulf of Eilat
Gulf of Suez map
The Sinai Peninsula with the Gulf of Aqaba to the east and the Gulf of Suez to the west
LocationSouthwest Asia and Northeast Africa
Coordinates28°45′N 34°45′E / 28.750°N 34.750°ECoordinates: 28°45′N 34°45′E / 28.750°N 34.750°E
Native nameخليج العقبة (Arabic)
מפרץ אילת (Hebrew)
Primary inflowsRed Sea
Basin countriesEgypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia
Max. length160 km (99 mi)
Max. width24 km (15 mi)
Max. depth1,850 m (6,070 ft)


Gulf of Suez from orbit 2007
The Sinai Peninsula separating the Gulf of Suez to the west and the Gulf of Aqaba, to the east.

The gulf is east of the Sinai Peninsula and west of the Arabian Peninsula. With the Gulf of Suez to the west, it extends from the northern portion of the Red Sea. It reaches a maximum depth of 1,850 m in its central area: the Gulf of Suez is significantly wider but less than 100 m deep.

The gulf measures 24 kilometres (15 mi) at its widest point and stretches some 160 kilometres (99 mi) north from the Straits of Tiran to where Israel meets Egypt and Jordan.

The city of Aqaba is the largest on the gulf

Like the coastal waters of the Red Sea, the gulf is one of the world's premier sites for diving. The area is especially rich in coral and other marine biodiversity and has accidental shipwrecks and vessels deliberately sunk in an effort to provide a habitat for marine organisms and bolster the local dive tourism industry.


Hilton hotel taba egypt
Taba beach

At this northern end of the gulf are three important cities: Taba in Egypt, Eilat in Israel, and Aqaba in Jordan. They are strategically important commercial ports and popular resorts for tourists seeking to enjoy the warm climate. Further south, Haql is the largest Saudi Arabian city on the gulf. On Sinai, Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab are the major centers.

The largest population center is Aqaba, with a population of 108,000 (2009), followed by Eilat with a population of 48,000 (2009).


The International Hydrographic Organization defines the southern limit of the gulf as "A line running from Ràs al Fasma Southwesterly to Requin Island (27°57′N 34°36′E / 27.950°N 34.600°E) through Tiran Island to the Southwest point thereof and thence Westward on a parallel (27°54'N) to the coast of the Sinaï Peninsula".[1]


The gulf is one of two gulfs created by the Sinai Peninsula's bifurcation of the northern Red Sea, the Gulf of Suez lying to the west of the peninsula and the Gulf of Aqaba to its east. Geologically, the gulf forms the southern end of the Dead Sea Transform. It contains three small pull-apart basins, the Elat Deep, Aragonese Deep and Dakar Deep, formed between four left lateral strike-slip fault segments. Movement on one of these faults caused the 1995 Gulf of Aqaba earthquake.[2]


Isle of Graia (crop)
"Isle of Graia Gulf of Akabah Arabia Petraea", 1839 lithograph of a trade caravan by Louis Haghe from an original by David Roberts.
Gulf of Eilat
A resort near Eilat's Coral Beach

Trade across the Red Sea between Thebes port of Elim and Elat at the head of the gulf is documented as early as the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt. Expeditions crossing the Red Sea and heading south to Punt are mentioned in the fifth, the sixth, the eleventh, the twelfth and the eighteenth dynasties of Egypt, when Hatshepsut built a fleet to support the trade and journeyed south to Punt in a six-month voyage. Thebes used Nubian gold or Nub from her conquests south into Kush to facilitate the purchase of frankincense, myrrh, bitumen, natron, juniper oil, linen, and copper amulets for the mummification industry at Karnak. Egyptian settlements near Timna at the head of the gulf date to the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt.

At the northern edge, the ancient city of Ayla (in present-day Aqaba) was a commercial hub for the Nabateans. The Romans built the Via Traiana Nova, which joined the King's Highway at Aqaba and connected Africa to Asia and the Levant and Red Sea shipping.

Aqaba was a major Ottoman port, connected to Damascus and Medina by the Hejaz railway. During World War I, the Battle of Aqaba was the key battle that ended a 500-year Ottoman rule over Greater Syria.

The Marine Twilight Zone Research and Exploration program (MTRX) was set up in 2003 by the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences of Eilat to conduct research on the deep coral reef systems of the northern Red Sea.[3]


Sea goldies swimming next to a coral, the Red Sea, Gulf of Eilat, Israel.
Red Sea coral and marine fish

The gulf is one of the most popular diving destinations in the world. About 250,000 dives are performed annually in Eilat's 11 km coastline, and diving represents 10% of the tourism income of this area.[4]

The Landscape of Wadi Rum to the east of the northern edge of the gulf is a popular destination. Other destinations are the ruins of the iron-age civilization of Ayla in the city of Aqaba, the site of the World War I Battle of Aqaba, led by Lawrence of Arabia.

Whales, orcas, dolphins, dugongs, and whale sharks live in the gulf as well.[5][6]

See also


  1. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  2. ^ Klinger, Yann; Rivera, Luis; Haessler, Henri; Maurin, Jean-Christophe (August 1999). "Active Faulting in the Gulf of Aqaba: New Knowledge from the Mw 7.3 Earthquake of 22 November 1995" (PDF). Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. Seismological Society of America. 89 (4): 1025–1036. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 January 2014
  3. ^ Ben-Shaprut, O; Goodman-Tchernov, B (2009). "Exploring the 'Marine Twilight Zone' in the Gulf of Eilat, Red Sea, Israel". In: Pollock NW, ed. Diving for Science 2009. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences 28th Symposium. Dauphin Island, AL: AAUS; 2009. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  4. ^ Artificial Reefs and Dive Tourism in Eilat, Israel. Dan Wilhelmsson, Marcus C. Öhman, Henrik Ståhl and Yechiam Shlesinger. Ambio, Vol. 27, No. 8, Building Capacity for Coastal Management (Dec., 1998), pp. 764-766 Published by: Allen Press on behalf of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences "Archived copy". JSTOR 4314831.. the United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved on December 17. 2014
  5. ^ Sciara di N.G., Smeenk C., Rudolph P., Addink M., Baldwin R., Cesario A., Costa M., Feingold D., Fumagalli M., Kerem D., Goffman O., Elasar M., Scheinin A., Hadar N.. 2014. Summary review of cetaceans of the Red Sea.
  6. ^ "Dugongs in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden". Archived from the original on 2016-01-28.

External links

1995 Gulf of Aqaba earthquake

The 1995 Gulf of Aqaba earthquake (also known as Nuweiba earthquake) occurred on November 22 at 06:15 local time (04:15 UTC) and registered 7.3 on the Mw scale. The epicenter was located in the central segment of the Gulf of Aqaba, the narrow body of water that separates Egypt's Sinai Peninsula from the western border of Saudi Arabia. At least 8 people were killed and 30 were injured in the meizoseismal area.

The earthquake occurred along the Dead Sea Transform (DST) fault system, an active tectonic plate boundary with seismicity that is characterized by long-running quiescent periods with occasional large and damaging earthquakes, along with intermittent earthquake swarms. It was the strongest tectonic event in the area for many decades and caused injuries, damage, and deaths throughout the Levant and is also thought to have remotely triggered a series of small to moderate earthquakes 500 kilometers (310 mi) to the north of the epicenter. In the aftermath of the quake, several field investigations set out to determine the extent of any surface faulting, and the distribution of aftershocks was analyzed.


The Arabah (Arabic: وادي عربة‎, Wādī ʻAraba), or Arava / Aravah (Hebrew: הָעֲרָבָה, HaAravah, lit. "desolate and dry area"), as it is known by its respective Arabic and Hebrew names, is a geographic area south of the Dead Sea basin, which forms part of the border between Israel to the west and Jordan to the east.

The old meaning, which was in use up to the early 20th century, covered almost the entire length of what today is called the Jordan Rift Valley, running in a north-south orientation between the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba at Aqaba/ Eilat. This included the Jordan River Valley between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, the Dead Sea itself, and what today is commonly called the Arava Valley. The contemporary use of the term is restricted to this southern section alone.

Dead Sea Transform

The Dead Sea Transform (DST) fault system, also sometimes referred to as the Dead Sea Rift, is a series of faults that run from the Maras Triple Junction (a junction with the East Anatolian Fault in southeastern Turkey) to the northern end of the Red Sea Rift (just offshore of the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula). The fault system forms the transform boundary between the African Plate to the west and the Arabian Plate to the east. It is a zone of left lateral displacement, signifying the relative motions of the two plates. Both plates are moving in a general north-northeast direction, but the Arabian Plate is moving faster, resulting in the observed left lateral motions along the fault of approximately 107 km. A component of extension is also present in the southern part of the transform, which has contributed to a series of depressions, or pull-apart basins, forming the Gulf of Aqaba, Dead Sea, Sea of Galilee and Hula basins.

Expedition to Tabuk

The Expedition to Tabuk, also known as the "Expedition of Usra", was a military expedition, which, was initiated by Muhammad in October, AD 630, AH 9. Muhammad led a force of as many as 30,000 north to Tabuk near the Gulf of Aqaba in present-day northwestern Saudi Arabia.


Ezion-Geber (Classical Hebrew: עֶצְיֹן גֶּבֶר, Etzyon Gever, also Asiongaber) was a city of Idumea, a biblical seaport on the northern extremity of the Gulf of Aqaba, in the area of modern Aqaba and Eilat.According to Targum Jonathan, the name means "city of the rooster" (כְּרַך תַּרְנְגוֹלָא).

Gulf of Suez

The Gulf of Suez (Arabic: خليج السويس‎, romanized: khalīǧ as-suwais; formerly بحر القلزم, baḥar al-qulzum, lit. "Sea of Calm") is a gulf at the northern end of the Red Sea, to the west of the Sinai Peninsula. Situated to the east of the Sinai Peninsula is the smaller Gulf of Aqaba. The gulf was formed within a relatively young but now inactive Gulf of Suez Rift rift basin, dating back about 26 million years. It stretches some 300 kilometres (190 mi) north by northwest, terminating at the Egyptian city of Suez and the entrance to the Suez Canal. Along the mid-line of the gulf is the boundary between Africa and Asia. The entrance of the gulf lies atop the mature Gemsa oil and gas field.

Jabal Umm Hayfā'

Jabal Umm Hayfā' is a mountain located in the Madiyan Mountains of northwest Saudi Arabia, near the Jordan border, above the Gulf of Aqaba, and is located in Tabūk, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the tallest mountains in the Arabian Peninsula.

Jabal `Umayyid

Jabal `Umayyid is a mountain located in the Madiyan Mountains of northwest Saudi Arabia, near the Jordan border, above the Gulf of Aqaba, and is located in Tabūk, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the tallest mountains in the Arabian Peninsula.

Jabal an Nukhaylah

Jabal an Nukhaylah is a mountain located in the Madiyan Mountains of northwest Saudi Arabia, near the Jordan border, above the Gulf of Aqaba, and is located in Tabūk, Saudi Arabia.

List of earthquakes in Egypt

This is a list of earthquakes in Egypt, including earthquakes that either had their epicenter in Egypt, or caused significant damage in Egypt.

List of earthquakes in Saudi Arabia

Earthquakes in Saudi Arabia are infrequent and usually occur in the western portion of the country near the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aqaba.

List of lighthouses in Israel

The lighthouses of Israel are all located along its 273 kilometres (170 mi) coastline. Most of the Israel's coastline faces west on the Mediterranean Sea, with a short coastline at the southern tip of the country, on the Gulf of Aqaba. Israel's main ports are the Port of Haifa and the Port of Ashdod on the Mediterranean, and the Port of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba. All lighthouses except Eilat Light are located along the Mediterranean coast, between Ashkelon in the south and Akko in the north. Israel's active lighthouses are maintained by the Israeli Shipping and Ports Authority, a statutory authority within the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety.Based on historical, numismatic and archaeological evidence, archaeologists believe that the Romans built a lighthouse on an islet near the harbor entrance of Akko. Remains of a colossal lighthouse mentioned by the Roman Jewish historian Josephus Flavius were discovered at Caesarea Maritima.The lighthouses of Israel are included in the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's List of Lights publication 113 for the Mediterranean Sea and 112 for the Gulf of Aqaba. They are listed by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office on volume E of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. They are also listed on The Lighthouse Directory and on the ARLHS World List of Lights. The chart above follows The Lighthouse Directory's inclusion criteria, namely, it includes lightbeacons having a height of at least 4 metres (13 ft) and a cross-section, at the base, of at least 4 square metres (43 sq ft) (a lightbeacon is defined as a beacon displaying a light, where a beacon itself is a fixed, that is, not floating, aid to navigation). The listing is from north to south.

List of rivers of Israel

This is a list of rivers in Israel. This list is arranged by drainage basin, with respective tributaries indented under each larger stream's name.


Nuweiba (also spelled: Nueiba; Arabic: نويبع‎, IPA: [neˈweːbeʕ]) is a coastal town in the eastern part of Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. Located on the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba.

Port of Eilat

The Port of Eilat (Hebrew: נמל אילת‎) is the only Israeli port on the Red Sea, located at the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba.

Red Sea Riviera

The Red Sea Riviera, Egypt's eastern coastline along the Red Sea, consists of resort cities on the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba and along the eastern coast of mainland Egypt, south of the Gulf of Suez. The combination of a favorable climate, warm sea, thousands of kilometers of shoreline and abundant natural and archaeological points of interest makes this stretch of Egypt’s coastline a popular national and international tourist destination. There are numerous National Parks along the Red Sea Riviera, both underwater and on land. Desert and marine life are protected by a number of laws, and visitors may be subject to heavy fines for not abiding.

Saudi–Egypt Causeway

The Saudi–Egypt Causeway is a proposal to link Egypt and Saudi Arabia with a causeway and bridge.

Straits of Tiran

The Straits of Tiran (Arabic: مضيق تيران‎ Maḍīq Tīrān) are the narrow sea passages between the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas which separate the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea proper. The distance between the two peninsulas is about 13 km (7 nautical miles). The body is named after Tiran Island located at its entrance 5 or 6 km (3 or 4 mi) from the Sinai, on which the Multinational Force and Observers has an observation post to monitor the compliance of Egypt in maintaining freedom of navigation of the straits as provided under the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty.Sanafir Island lies to the east of Tiran, southeast of the shallow strait between Tiran and Saudi Arabia.


Tihamah or Tihama (Arabic: تِهَامَة‎ Tihāmah) refers to the Red Sea coastal plain of the Arabian Peninsula from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Bab el Mandeb.

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