Egyptian deserts host so much more than foxes and camping sites.
Egypt is an interesting place because wherever we look, even if it’s not in the middle of the city, there’s always something peculiar and artistic to admire. As such, a German artist duo comprised of Sabine Haubitz and Stefanie Zoche, took on an unusual mission and spent three years, 2002-2005, taking photos of abandoned 5-star hotel complexes in the Sinai peninsula.
The photos were eventually compiled into a book entitled Sinai Hotels vividly documenting various hotel projects that had started being constructed but for some mysterious reason or another, were abandoned. It could have very well been because tourism had been suffering since the 2011 revolution, constant terrorist attacks in Northern Sinai or simply because the number of tourists is dwindling.
In an article written by Caitlin Peterson on Aint-Bad, she explains that “the reasons for these ghost towns are many and varied, ranging from bad investments to subsidy scandals to the decline in tourism in Northern Sinai due to fear of terrorist attacks.”
“Through the perspective of several years, these hotel sites, planned as status bearers, have proven to be the ruins left by misinvestment in state-funded tourism projects. The sculptural shells point to one of the consequences of a tourist industry that encourages uncontrolled urban development of whole landscapes and, against the backdrop of current political developments, amounts to a socio-political fuse. In their promise of holiday idylls, the names of hotel chains, which the artists have adopted for their titles, jar with discrepancy against the abandoned concrete skeletons in the pictures,” she adds.
Either way, these abandoned investments resulted in no more than concrete foundations and dusty signs, stranded in an otherwise vacant landscape of sand and mountains highlighting the sense of abandonment.
The book went on to win the German Photobook Prize in 2007.
Images courtesy of Haubitz-Zoche.com. You can find more on the project here