Unlike Port Said and Ismailiya, SUEZ (Es-Suweis in Arabic) has a history long predating the Canal, going back to Ptolemaic Klysma. As Arabic Qulzum, the port prospered from the spice trade and pilgrimages to Mecca throughout medieval times, remaining a walled city until the eighteenth century. The Canal brought modernization and revenues, later augmented by the discovery of oil in the Gulf of Suez, though the city was later devastated during the wars with Israel. Today most of Suez’s 490,000 inhabitants live in prefabricated estates or the patched-up remnants of older quarters, while noxious petrochemical refineries, cement and fertiliser plants ring the outskirts. The city is mainly used by travellers as an interchange between Cairo, the Sinai Peninsula and Hurghada. There is a distinct lack of things to do in Suez, and although local people are friendly, modest dress is advised.

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