For the town in Australia, see El Arish, Queensland. For the village in Iran, see Arish, Iran.
El Arish
Skyline of Arish, 1916
Skyline of Arish, 1916
Flag of El Arish
El Arish is located in Egypt
El Arish
El Arish
Location in Egypt
Coordinates: 31°07′55″N 33°48′12″E / 31.132072°N 33.803376°E / 31°07′55″N 33°48′12″E / 31.132072; 33.803376
Country   Egypt
Governorate North Sinai
Elevation 32 m (105 ft)
Population (2012)
 • Total 164,830
Time zone EET ( UTC+2)
Area code(s) (+20) 68

Arish or El Arīsh ( Arabic: العريش‎‎ El ʿArīš  Egyptian Arabic pronunciation:  [elʕæˈɾiːʃ], Coptic: ϩⲣⲓⲛⲟⲕⲟⲣⲟⲩⲣⲁ Hrinokorura) is the capital and largest city (with 114,900 inhabitants as of 2002) of the Egyptian governorate of North Sinai, as well as the largest city on the entire Sinai Peninsula, lying on the Mediterranean coast of the Sinai peninsula, 344 kilometers (214 mi) northeast of Cairo. Arish is distinguished by its clear blue water, widespread fruitful palmy wood on its coast, and its soft white sand. It has a marina, and many luxury hotels. The city also has some of the faculties of Suez Canal University.

Arish is by a big wadi, the Wadi Al Arish, which receives flash flood water from much of north and central Sinai. The Azzaraniq national park is on the eastern side of Arish. [1]


Australian Light Horse camp beside the seaside at Arish, 1915–18
Staff of von Kressenstein at Arish, 1916

The city grew around a Bedouin settlement near the ancient Ptolemaic Dynasty outpost of Rhinocolura. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims misidentified the site as the Sukkot of the Bible. ʻArīsh means "palm huts" in Literary Arabic.

New fortifications were constructed at the original site by the Ottoman Empire in 1560. During the Napoleonic Wars, the French laid siege to the fort, which fell after 11 days on February 19, 1799. During World War I, the fort was destroyed by British bombers. It was later the location of the 45th Stationary Hospital which treated casualties of the Palestine campaign. The remains of those who died there were later moved to Kantara Cemetery.

Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, proposed Arish as a Jewish homeland since neither the Sultan nor the Kaiser supported settlement in Palestine. In 1903, Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary, agreed to consider Arish, and Herzl commissioned the lawyer David Lloyd George a charter draft, but his application was turned down once an expedition, led by Leopold Kessler had returned and submitted a detailed report to Herzl, which outlined a proposal to divert some of the Nile waters to the area for the purpose of settlement. [2]

On December 8, 1958, an air battle occurred between Egyptian and Israeli air forces over Arish. [3]

Arish was under military occupation by Israel briefly in 1956 and again from 1967 to 1979. It was returned to Egypt in 1979 after the signing of the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty.