The isolated and imposing desert rising to meet the red, jagged mountains that then tumbled into the sparkling azure sea had bewitched him.  The Sinai was at that time, virgin territory, stretching out before his eyes without a hotel or building in sight.

Sherif camped on the white sand beach a little bay nestled between two hills and decided to change his life and set up a business in what was then the Egyptian hinterland.  He bought the property with the intention of preserving his parcel of land from the type of damaging development he had seen in Hurgada and Sharm el Sheikh.  He was not an expert in the tourism industry but felt that he could do something that would impact great numbers of people. 

He suffered through years of bureaucratic red tape and the government’s misunderstanding of his vision. Nothing of this nature existed in Egypt at the time.   Sherif wanted to integrate his love of camping with his desire to protect nature.  He did not want to ruin the natural beauty of the Sinai but wanted to create a balance between people and the environment through a project that would be as simple as possible.  He came up with the concept of Basata, a place that would be conscientious of the natural beauty of the area, would operate in harmony with the environment and where different cultures could meet and mingle.

In 1986, he officially opened Basata for tourists.  He started with one hut but toiled and sweated until he had four.  He bought water until he was able to bring a desalination machine to the area.  The original bathrooms consisted of a tub of water and a bucket.  And the main hut housed the communal kitchen area and a living room, less than half the size it is today.  Initially, Sherif alone took responsibility for every task involved in operating Basata: building, cleaning and cooking.  He made pizzas for dinner until ‘Abdu arrived to shoulder some of the kitchen duties, once a year or so Sherif, covered in tomato sauce and dough, reminds everyone that he hasn’t lost his flare for making a good pizza. 

At the beginning, Sherif was encouraged by family members and friends who came to camp.  Somehow, word began to spread and more and more people arrived to experience what Basata, and only Basata, had to offer, to this day, Sherif has never advertised.  Basata became a meeting place for people from every corner of the world.  They would come intending to stay a few nights and wouldn’t leave for months.  Friendships thrived and each year during holidays old friends reunite. 

Among the first visitors was a blond German woman who was so besotted with everything she saw, she decided to stay.  Maria and Sherif were married, and she soon became an indispensable part of the place and together they continue to enhance and improve Basata. 

Basata has changed a great deal since its humble origins but has somehow managed to grow without compromising its original ideals.  There are more huts and guests now have the option of staying in a mud brick chalet with indoor plumbing and electricity. A deluxe kitchen is in place for the Chef and rather than coolers there are proper refrigerators, the bathrooms are now tiled and have private showers, and there are generators, a desalination machine, an organic greenhouse and a farm.  Sherif and Maria, as parents of Sohaila and Faris, hired teachers and constructed a school that they opened up to the local Bedouin children.   Nowadays, a cell phone may ring indicating that Basata is not completely disconnected from the advances of modern technology.  It is still, in spite of the changes, a special place that draws amazing people.  During the evening, sitting on a cushion sipping tea and gazing out over the powdery blue sea at the rose tinged mountains, it is hard to imagine anywhere more idyllic or beautiful than Basata.