Who are we?
The Red Sea Mountain Trail is a community tourism project, managed by members of the Khushmaan. The Khushmaan are a clan of a Bedouin tribe called the Maaza, who occupy the northern half of Egypt's Red Sea Mountains and who trace their roots to the Hejaz of Arabia. A small, tribal organisation headed by a Sheikh of the Khushmaan oversees the operation and ongoing development of the Red Sea Mountain Trail. This organisation is known as the Red Sea Mountain Trail Association (RSMTA). The Red Sea Mountain Trail is the sister project of the award-winning Sinai Trail and Wadi Rum Trail, which launched in early 2023, with all three created by the same team, with the same vision and broadly similar goals.
Sheikh Merayi Abu Musallem hails from the Khushmaan clan of the Maaza tribe and grew up in the Red Sea Mountains. He comes from a line of Sheikhs, with his father holding the office before him and his grandfather before that. He holds his position by lineage but also merit, being widely respected within the region for his fair, intelligent leadership and representation of the clan. Sheikh Merayi is a founder of the Red Sea Mountain Trail who took a leading role in envisioning the project and developing it from the beginning and he oversees the organisation that manages it on behalf of the Khushmaan Bedouin today. He hopes the Red Sea Mountain Trail will help show something of the beauty of his desert homeland to the world, along with the history and heritage of his tribe the Maaza.
Mohammed Muteer is a clansman the Khushmaan who grew up in a Bedouin family practising a traditional mobile pastoralist way of life in the Red Sea Mountains. He had a leading role in the creation of the Red Sea Mountain Trail, walking further than anybody else in scouting the route over a period of several years. Since the trail opened in 2019 Mohammed has been one of its leading guides, walking with hikers from across Egypt and around the world. He continues to work on the trail today, usually accompanied by younger apprentice guides, and hopes it will continue to grow as tourism begins to return more strongly. Mohammed has two young daughters and still spends most of his time in the mountains today, living in a small hamlet near the foot of Jebel Shayib el Banat.
Hassan Musallem is the brother of Sheikh Merayi Abu Musallem and grew up between the Red Sea Mountains and the town of Hurghada. He has been working in tourism for over 20 years, helping with the management of Bedouin camps or 'mahattas' in the foothills of the mountains. Hassan helped advise on the development of the Red Sea Mountain Trail and scouted several sections of the route. He works as one of the head guides on the trail today and remains close to Sheikh Merayi in overseeing its management and development on behalf of the wider Bedouin community in the region. Hassan splits his time between the mountains and Hurghada today and his knowledge of the region and competence in the mountains is widely admired by hikers and Bedouin alike.
Tony Howard & Di Taylor
Tony and Di have been creating grassroots tourism for decades. Tony led the British first ascent of Norway’s unclimbed Troll Wall in 1965. He co-founded climbing company Troll and created the climbing sit harness design still used today. In 1984, Tony and Di’s team discovered then developed climbing and trekking in Wadi Rum, helped by Rum’s Zalabia Bedouin. Exploration of Jordan’s trekking, canyoning, climbing and caving culminated in their initiation of the award winning Jordan Trail. They also climbed in Sinai and the Red Sea Mountains in the 1990s. Their books include climbing and trekking guides, Tony’s award-winning Troll Wall and his autobiography, Quest into the Unknown. They are a source of advice to the RSMTA and we hope will scout parts of the route in the future.
Mostafa Abul Fadl
Originally from Egypt, Mostafa spent long parts of his childhood in Saudi Arabia, where he developed an enduring love for the Middle East's deserts. In 2016, he was part of the first group to thru hike Egypt's Sinai Trail. He began volunteering for the Sinai Trail soon after and today he works to fix its trips, train its thru hikers and organise community events in Cairo. Mostafa organised the inaugural hike on the Red Sea Mountain Trail - attended by hikers from Egypt and around the world - and has an important managerial role at the trail today, working closely with Sheikh Merayi and handling the coordination of all hiking groups. Mostafa is passionate about showing hikers from all around the world the great, undiscovered beauty of the Red Sea Mountains and Egypt.
Originally from the Czech Republic, Martina has spent most of the last decade working in different parts of Europe and the Middle East. An Arabic speaker, she worked at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Cairo, before switching to Holland to manage projects for SPARK; a charity supporting access to education for refugees. Her entry to the world of trails came in 2015, when she managed a World Bank grant assigned for Masar Ibrahim Al Khalal: a long-distance hiking trail in Palestine. She also worked on developing the Sinai Trail and a new trail in Saudi Arabia. Martina's focus is on growing tourism projects that focus ownership firmly in the hands of local communities. She helped strengthen the ownership body of the Red Sea Mountain Trail and gives ongoing advice.
Sara was born in Hurghada and grew up on the doorstep of the Red Sea Mountains. Nevertheless, it was not until the inaugural hike of the Red Sea Mountain Trail in 2019 that she first walked the mountains of her hometown. Sara is a medical doctor who works today for Medecins Sans Frontiers in Cairo and alongside hiking, she competes as a tri-athelete in events across Egypt. Sara sometimes joins hikes as a volunteer doctor, she advises the Red Sea Mountain Trail on all medical and safety issues. Since her first hike in 2019 Sara has gone on to walk most parts of the Red Sea Mountain Trail and to summit its highest peaks several times each. She hopes the trail will help show the beauty of her hometown to the world and grow a kind of tourism that can support its communities.
Ben Hoffler has played a supporting role with communities creating trail projects across the Middle East for over a decade. Author of Trailblazer's Sinai: The Trekking Guide he arrived in the region 15 years ago from the UK and has been based here ever since. He has walked with Bedouin tribes all over the region and volunteers as much time as he can to raising a wider awreness of the depth, beauty and ongoing value of their heritage and the way traditional knowledge and skills are being lost today. He believes tourism can play an important role keeping at least parts of this relevant and alive in new ways. He is currently based in the northern deserts and mountains of Saudi Arabia, where he is working on guidebooks to a collection of new hiking trails set to launch in the region over the next year.