Taba (Arabic: طابا Ṭāba , IPA: [ˈtˤɑːbɑ]) is a small Egyptian town near the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. Taba is the location of Egypt’s busiest border crossing with neighboring Israel. Little more than a bus depot and a luxury hotel (complete with casino), Taba is a frequent vacation spot for Egyptians and tourists, especially those from Israel on their way to other destinations in Egypt or as a weekend getaway. It is the northernmost resort of Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera.
Taba was located on the Egyptian side of the armistice line agreed to in 1949. During the Suez Crisis in 1956 it was briefly occupied but returned to Egypt when Israel withdrew in 1957. Israel reoccupied the Sinai Peninsula after the Six-Day War in 1967, and subsequently a 400-room hotel was built in Taba. Following the 1973 Yom-Kippur War, when Egypt and Israel were negotiating the exact position of the border in preparation for the 1979 peace treaty, Israel claimed that Taba had been on the Ottoman side of a border agreed between the Ottomans and British Egypt in 1906 and had, therefore, been in error in its two previous agreements. Although most of Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982, Taba was the last portion to be returned. After a long dispute, the issue was submitted to an international commission composed of one Israeli, one Egyptian, and three outsiders. In 1988, the commission ruled in Egypt’s favor, and Israel returned Taba to Egypt in 1989.
As part of this subsequent agreement, travelers are permitted to cross from Israel at the Eilat – Taba border crossing, and visit the “Aqaba Coast Area of Sinai”, (stretching from Taba down to Sharm el Sheikh, and including Nuweiba, St Catherine and Dahab), visa-free for up to 14 days, making Taba a popular tourist destination. The resort community of Taba Heights is located some 20 km (12 mi) south of Taba. It features several large hotels, including The Hyatt Regency, Marriott, Sofitel and Intercontinental. It is also a significant diving area where many people come to either free dive, scuba dive or learn to dive via the many PADI courses on offer. Other recreation facilities include a new desert style golf course.
Located just southwest of Taba is a protected area on 3590 km². This protected area includes geological formations such as caves, a string of valleys, and mountainous passages. There are also some natural springs in the area.
The area has 25 kinds of mammals, 50 kinds of rare birds, and 24 kinds of reptiles
Since Taba existed only as a small Bedouin village, there was never any real transportation infrastructure. More recently, Al Nakb Airport, located on the Sinai plateau some 35 km (22 mi) from Taba, was upgraded and renamed Taba International Airport, and now handles half a dozen charter flights a week from the UK as well as weekly charter flights from Belgium, Russia and The Netherlands. Many tourists enter via the Taba Border Crossing from Eilat, Israel and a marina has been built in the new Taba Heights development, some 20 km (12 mi) south of Taba, and which has frequent ferry sailings to Aqaba in Jordan, although these are restricted to tourists on organised tours.