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Sinai Peninsula, showing the Red Sea (center bottom) with the Gulf of Aqaba (running toward the upper right or east) as viewed from Low Earth Orbit.

The Gulf of Aqaba (Arabic: خليج العقبة‎; transliterated: Khalyj al-'Aqabah), in Israel and in many pre twentieth-century sources, known as the Gulf of Eilat (Hebrew: מפרץ אילת, transliterated: Mifratz Eilat) is a large gulf of the Red Sea.



The Gulf is located to the east of the Sinai peninsula and west of the Arabian mainland. Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia all have coastlines on the Gulf. It reaches a maximum depth of 1850m in its central basin (the significantly wider Gulf of Suez is less than 100m deep).


The International Hydrographic Organization defines the southern limit of the Gulf of Aqaba as follows:[1]

A line running from Ràs al Fasma Southwesterly to Requin Island (27°57′N 34°36′E / 27.95°N 34.6°E / 27.95; 34.6) through Tiran Island to the Southwest point thereof and thence Westward on a parallel (27°54'N) to the coast of the Sinaï Peninsula.


The Gulf of Aqaba is one of two gulfs created by the Sinai Peninsula's bifurcation of the northern Red Sea, the Gulf of Suez lying to the west of the Sinai Peninsula and the Gulf of Aqaba lying to its east. The Gulf of Aqaba measures 24 kilometres (15 mi) at its widest point and stretches some 160 kilometres (99 mi) north from the Straits of Tiran to a point where the border of Israel meets the borders of Egypt and Jordan. At this northern end of the Gulf are three important cities: Taba in Egypt, Eilat in Israel, and Aqaba in Jordan. All three cities serve both as strategically important commercial ports and as popular resort destinations for tourists seeking to enjoy the warm climate of the region. Further south, Haql is the largest Saudi Arabian city on the gulf. On Sinai, Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab are the major centers.

The Gulf of Aqaba, like the coastal waters of the Red Sea, is one of the world's premier sites for diving. The area is especially rich in coral and other marine biodiversity and contains a number of underwater wrecks, some accidental shipwrecks, others vessels deliberately sunk in an effort to provide a habitat for marine organisms and bolster the local dive tourism industry.

Geologically, the Gulf of Aqaba is an integral part of the Great Rift Valley that runs from East Africa through the Red Sea and northwards towards the rift valley containing the Dead Sea.


"Isle of Graia Gulf of Akabah Arabia Petraea", 1839 lithograph of a trade caravan by Louis Haghe from an original by David Roberts

Trade across the Red Sea between Thebes port of Elim and Elat at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba is documented as early as the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt. Red Sea expeditions crossing the Red Sea and heading south to Punt are mentioned in the Fifth dynasty of Egypt, the Sixth dynasty of Egypt, the Eleventh dynasty of Egypt, the Twelfth dynasty of Egypt and the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt when Hatshepsut built a fleet to support the trade and journeyed south to Punt herself in a six-month voyage. Thebes used Nubian gold or Nub from her conquests south into Kush to facilitate the purchase of Frankincense, Myrrh, Bitumen, Natron, Juniper oil, Linen, and Copper amulets for the mummification industry at Karnak. Egyptian settlements near Timnah at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba date to the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt.

An Egyptian naval blockade against all Israeli shipping through the Straits of Tiran (the southern opening of this gulf) was the immediate cause of the 1967 Six Day War.[2]

See also

Red Sea Governorate


  1. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 20 December 2009.  
  2. ^ "Egypt reinstates blockade"

External links

Coordinates: 28°41′10″N 34°41′44″E / 28.68611°N 34.69556°E / 28.68611; 34.69556

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