"EL BEIT" architecture magazine - Jan 2008 Edition

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Mix-Mag Sharm el Sheikh January 2007

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Mountain meets Sea

In Sinai you can relax on the beach, swim, snorkel, dive and now visit Castle Zaman. Follow Amira El-Naqeeb
(from AlAhram Weekly 1 - 7 June 2006, Issue No. 797)

Castle Zaman, overlooking the sea,
is an exclusive outing that highlights Sinai's spirit

Castle Zaman is a new concept for an outing in the middle of the desert which at the same time overlooks the sea. Located on the Taba-Nuweiba road in Al-Borqa Mountain, in the middle of what is known as the Golden Beach, 35 metres above sea level, lies Castle Zaman, famous for its golden sand, sapphire waters, colourful corals and where the mountains come right to the edge of the sea.

"All I wanted was an outing that highlights Sinai's spirit," Hani Roshdi, owner and manager of Castle Zaman, says. The resort took over five years to be build and was open to the public almost two years ago. "I wanted to do an outing with a local theme, something that was not franchised," Roshdi said.

Castle Zaman has a bar and slow food restaurant. "I wanted to do the theme of the slow food restaurant because I wanted people to come and enjoy the place, not just eat and leave," Roshdi added.

The slow food movement began in Italy during the 1980s in reply to fast food chains. "For instance, if a slice of steak takes normally about one hour and 300 C heat to be cooked, we cook it on 100 C for three hours," says Lucia, the Czech bar tender. But you won't starve to death. You can always order the minute you arrive or reserve ahead.

Castle Zaman is ideal for day-use and a breathtaking party venue. "Some people even have their weddings here, but on a very intimate scale, as it is neither child nor elderly friendly," Roshdi said.

The castle has an infinity pool where you can enjoy sunning yourself and lazing around. There is also a massage area to be opened soon. So if you are in Nuweiba or Taba, and want to experience and enjoy a languid charm to unwind your coiled mind, this is your destination.

The castle was built to reflect the spirit of the ruins. Its stone exterior is basalt and granite taken from the Red Sea mountains. Interior walls and flooring are made of fossilised limestone. "I tried to revive the know-how of primitive stone building," Roshdi said. "There are no builders who work in this line of architecture anymore."

The place makes an ecolodge statement, as most of its furniture and materials are from the surrounding nature. The wood used in the doors and windows is from the electricity rolls, waste of projects in the area. Palm fronds cover the roofs, while lighting units are made from clay pots.

If you are an avid excavator, this is undoubtedly your place. It has what is called the Treasure Room, a room underneath the castle. The room is covered with a wooden door, which in order to step underneath, you must pull an iron chain upwards till it opens. Then you find steps leading to an underground tunnel. The walls of the tunnel are adorned with small windows grooved inside the walls, which have beautiful Egyptian handicraft displayed in the most interesting way. The works are not exploited in the usual tourist market.

So if you are a treasure hunter, pack your bags. Who knows what's in store?

For reservations call (+2) 0128 2140 591, or visit the website www.castlezaman.com.

The King and His Castle
An architect builds a place to live happy ever after
(From Egypt Today Magazine , July, 2003)

Once upon a time there was a castle on top of a cliff looking out upon lapping waves as far as the eye could see. The king of the castle was so in love with his fortress he built a tomb for himself on the castle grounds and willed that he should be buried there.
Or so Hany Roshdy would have visitors to his spectacular home believe. Desperate to live on Nuweiba’s seashore, the architect was denied a residential license to build along the Red Sea coast. Roshdy is the
Egypt Today article about Castle Zaman mastermind behind the hugely successful modern pharaoh cartoon character King Dude as well as Say Cheese rats printed on greeting cards and t-shirts– some even hail him as the Egyptian Walt Disney- so he’s never short of bright ideas. He managed to convince investors to help him build Zaman. Arabic for “the past”(and possibly pronounced “The Man” by expatriates), the enchanting fortress, which celebrated its soft opening a few months ago, looks set to be a tourist attraction Roshdy can call home.
Designed to evoke the middle Ages, Zaman, 35 kilometers from Taba airport, offers a chance to be part of the past while enjoying the comfort of modern facilities. At once imposing and intimate, the structure is Egyptian through and through and is so authentic in execution that many first –time visitors, wanting to experience the magic the fortress so poignantly evokes, are fooled into thinking it really is ancient.
Adamant he would never resort to using characterless concrete b
locks, Roshdy, who designed the castle, contracted several local workers to execute the project. Together they painstakingly collected granite and basalt stones from dried spring beds around the cliff. The stones shaped and polished by once- gushing water were color coordinated and used to create Zaman’s imposing walls. These were lined on the inside with stone slabs specially transported from El Arish. Roshdy’s biggest challenge was erecting the medieval– style vault and dome ceiling which required a staggering 80 tons of stone. All the furniture was designed by Roshdy who in fact executed many of his creations himself using locally available materials. Of special note are the giant light fixtures, the eclectic fireplace and the outdoor seating arrangements, all fashioned for comfort as well as convenience.
At present only the residential section of the building and the primitive natural– spring–style swimming pool have been completed. The restaurant, bar and labyrinthine treasure– hunt– style shopping center have yet to be furnished.


  Time out Tel Aviv– 25 of June 2004
Written by Itai Mautner

I assume that most of our readers know the feeling – finally you have found the time to go down to Sinai (especially after the last time when you told yourself: “Sinai is paradise, and so accessible. From now on I will go there at least every two months…”), you managed to cross the border without to many problems, and got into one of the original Peugeot taxis with a carpeted dashboard. You are driving south towards your favorite beach. Your head keeps turning left. Your eyes swallow this blue-turquoise-green-gray and can’t believe it. Your body starts going back to the known comfort of previous times, and the heart beats happily. Only the colorful concrete structures built in haste, when someone still believed in peace tourism, tarnish your happiness.

What you probably missed when you drowned in all of the blue, is one of the biggest prizes in Sinai, located on the right side of the road, the unseen side. Just before Basata, about 35 km from the border, you are invited to start looking to you right. At first it looks like Phata Morgana. Later you start to think that you are affected by Siani’s hallucinatory atmosphere, finally you understand that what you see is what you are going to get. On the top of one of the mountains close to the road there is a castle. Not ruins, not just a structure, not a part of… but rather a proud castle standing majestically overlooking a view that puts Sinai first on the list “The views that have the greatest influence on man”.

The man in charge of this spectacle is Hany Ghabry (37) who graduated with a degree in architecture fourteen years ago in Cairo , and on the same day decided to retire. “I reached a breaking point. I didn't want to join this whole rat race”, he explains. "to build and build, so that one day I can retire and sit quietly on the beach". His very early retirement led him to Basata, one of the most exclusive hut camps. For most Israelis Basata is type of trauma. Firstly, because in its earlier version, when it was called Ras Burka, an Egyptian soldier murdered an entire family for no apparent reason, this gave even Sinai’s greatest admirers a shock. The other reason is that the selection policy used by the current owners of Basata does not allow Isrealis. The owners (a German/Egyptian couple) are not fans of the people sitting in Zion , and every time that you try to make a reservation, you will probably be told, “We’re full, sorry”.

Anyway, Hany stayed in Basata for almost 14 years and did what you usually do on a beach – sat. He rested, sunbathed, walked around (a little), talked (a lot) and lived a beautiful life, the kind most of us only dream of. Luckily for us, he woke up one day from his modern Bedouin dream and decided to do something.

"As a kid I used to build sand castles. Today, as an overgrown kid, I want to build castles on mountains.”, explains Hany. This is the main reason for leaving the beach and getting involved with this complicated project without making a big deal of it.
Hany, apparently does not like the attention that comes with his life’s work, and even though he is the living spirit behind the castle in the middle of the desert and even though he is Lawrence of Arabia and full of an Egyptian charm that could sweep the local babes off their feet, Hany tries to hide. He refused to have his picture taken for this article, and spilled his heart over a friendly conversation, and a cold beer on one of the castle’s terraces, and not, in a regular interview.

It took Hany six years to build his castle, in English it is called Castle Zaman. (In Arabic, time, or in the local dialect, “Za Man”.) He really wasn't sure what he was going to build. Out of line with the architectural education he received in Cairo this time he built without a plan. He sat on the mountain for days on end letting his imagination wander.

Like anyone who plans to build a castle (you probably remember the feeling) he fantasized. You know – a magical princess, fire breathing dragons, and knights in shining armor, with all of these images he failed. With the rest of it he succeeded big time.

The best way to walk into the castle is unprepared. Allow the place take you by surprise, let it unveil a different facet of itself. One thing is certain, the God of little details definitely lives here. Otherwise it would be very difficult to explain the perfection of the visionary and functional aspects of the castle.

Beginning with a personal ecological statement that is it’s basis – the castle is built with only natural materials. Each and every stone (and there are a lot of them in the castle) was hand picked. All granite and basalt were carefully chosen from dried springs in the area. During their life, each of these stones weathered the elements and became discolored, their “color” had to be corrected, a type of slave labor.

The building techniques are all antique methods, even if you searched well you would not find a trace of cement or other modern techniques that didn’t exist in the old days. All of the furniture and fixtures were specifically designed by Hany, built of local and recycled materials: beginning with the sitting areas, the wooden benches and enormous chandeliers to the gracefully carved toilet paper holder. As a whole, the castle/fort/stronghold is a living and breathing homage to an ancient culture, with modern conveniences. “Elegant Shanty” is only one of the many titles that would be appropriate for this beautiful and comfortable enterprise. As in any castle, this one also graces itself with an underground tunnel. Eighty tons of stone were imported from El Arish to build this tunnel, which was inspired by the ancient tombs of the Pharaohs. The tunnel is air conditioned. Not by a mechanical device but by a natural air conditioner that Hany designed. A small amount of water and a window that was placed at the exact correct angle together with the desert wind make the whole tunnel cool even when outside camels faint from the heat. Hany dug little niches into the walls of the tunnel. Hany says that in due time this tunnel will be a gift shop (?), until capitalism takes control you can enjoy an Egyptian, Pagan ancient trick (originally found in Abu Simbel): Twice a year on the 22nd of April and 20th of August, at exactly 13:00 the sun’s rays come through a tiny opening in the tunnel and strikes a glass lens and lights a candle!

Upon exiting the tunnel, a beautiful Japanese pond with a little waterfall awaits the visitor. The pond is only for goldfish and is actually a part of the massage area of the castle, for those who want to swim, and not with the gold fish, only a few steps away there is a natural spring pool that is like the belly of the castle. The pool is small, but its location is perfect – just before the fierce mountains with a panoramic view of the sea in the middle of this crazy castle.

Hany can be reached at:
tel: (+2) 0128 2140 591



Mapa travel guide wrote:

Hnay's Casytle.

Location: Infront of Ghazala, 45KMs from the border.
Appropriate for the whole family. You can see from the road a beautiful medievel castle that is the dream/project of one man.(one man dream), built in the last 5 years stone by stone from out of the fantasies of Hany Rousdhy architect from Cairo that have lived during the last decade with fishermen on the sinai beaches.
We are not talking about the Egyptian version of Joseph, the children's story teller, it has its magic on hotel goers and khousha lovers as well.

Once upon a time there was a beloved King by the name of Daud. This wise King had a good hearted daughter that was so beautiful and everybody that saw her was enchanted by her eyes....like pure water in a desert. The court magician,Zaman, also fell in love with the Princess. He casts a spell on her so that she would return his love. When news of this got to the King, he got very angry and he ordered the exile of Zaman to the desert.
The broken hearted magician chose a far away cliff and built an isolated stone castle and stayed there alone...away from human conatct.He spent all his life at the tower of the castle observing the blue sea underneath.... waiting in vain for his beloved. Before dying he ordered a magnificent monument to be built at the top of the deserted cliff.

Zaman, the Princess, and the King were born in the boiling brain of HR and this is the version we heard from him.We assume that if you go to the castle and hear the story... you will also hear about wild worriors coming from the desert, about a wise old wrinkled man, about a talking camel, and more imaginative arabesques. All of them are tied to what you see in the castle.
There is a twisted and dark labirnyth that leads to the treasure room, dark cellars of the galant, a gold fish pond and a recycled fountain, and all of this environment friendly.

Curious people knocking on the doors of the castle are being welcomed and can drink a glass of beer in this enchanting setting. Soon Hany's place will have a luxurious turkish bath with a light blue swimming pool that compliments hany's virgin beach. The hotels arround are throwing elegent parties and celebrations, honeymooners will be treated to the most romantic holiday and it is worthwhile to just stop and check what other plans Hany has.
Hany's mobile: (+2) 0128 2140 591
Handicapped access: not available.


Dream Castle of the Sinai

(Translated from Maariv , 1/4/04)

Those who are tickled by castles no longer need to travel the long distance to Europe.  There is one just as spectacular in the Sinai. ZAMAN , Arabic for “long ago”, a stunning desert castle, built of red and brown tinted stones .Merging into the landscape, Zaman has arched ceilings, and is furnished and styled in an ancient design. But the castle uses all-natural materials and, most importantly, it is located on a cliff top above the Red Sea , complete with a dream natural beach. The castle, situated south of Taba, is used as a location for private parties and is also rented to (affording) loving couples for “fairy-tale” style honeymoons. All that is required to run away from the real world exists here - music, drinks, a swimming pool, beach, and, most important, breath-taking landscape.

Zaman is the fantasy of one man, Hany Roshdy, a 37-year-old Egyptian architect and businessman who dedicated five years of his life to the design and construction of this castle. "I had arrived in this place for a vacation several years ago and fell in love with the place," he tells me, "For days after days I would climb up the cliff with a mattress, sit here and dream about the castle I shall build".

The realization of the dream was not easy. The purchase of the land was a complicated  red-tape production, but Roshdy and his business-partner did not give up .By end they purchased the barn rock hill from the Egyptian government, located near the water line. Roshdy sold his Cairo house, closed the blooming T-shirts business he had been running , and moved to live on the site and supervise the demanding project of constructing the castle .

He designed the structure directly from his feverish mind without written plans or drawings , and have been involved in the carving and shaping of each and every stone. He built the castle in levels into the hillside and the half-built walls are intended to emulate the view of the remains of an ancient fortified castle. The building stones are placed in layers, according to ancient building methods without using modern materials as concrete or reinforcing steel bars .In fact, only stone, wood, copper, and pottery. And glass was used. During construction, Roshdy designed each feature in the castle, and everything - from the wooden terraces rails to the toilet-tissue holders in the toilets are made in the same style and built out of natural materials. The furniture is made of natural solid wood; the lamps, candle-holders and water fountains are all made of recycled materials.

As in every castle, here too is a dungeon, designed to serve in the future as a gift-shop. Arched darkish catacombs lead to an underground hall where a natural wind-trap cools the air and Pharaonic-style sun traps enable a sunray to illuminate a certain spot at only two specific days each year.

Beside the historical flavor, Roshdy insisted on shaping the place with home-like warmth and cozy atmosphere. In the central space of the castle there are comfortable sitting areas, equipped with carpets and pillows and veiled with canvas drapes. There is also a grill with a chimney at the center of the hall, and a bar open to the terrace over looking the sea shore. The computerized sound and lighting systems can turn the place into a discotheque or to an intimate candle-lit dining hall, as you wish. All the facilities that may remind one of the 21st century are hidden or covered by styled rustic wood and metal covers.

Going out to the terrace you are struck by the stunning blue of the sea. The handrails and the pergolas are made of natural wooden logs combined with canes and date palms branches. Stone stairways lead down to the residential quarters, which is also built in levels and furnished with two bedrooms and an open kitchen surrounded by a bar. On the way down you pass by the goldfish pond and the natural lagoon-styled swimming pool, the water of which is identical to the color of the seawater in the background.

Another long and steep stairway run leads down to the private beach of the castle. This pristine sand beach is one of the only white, pure sand strips along the Sinai coast and is free of shades, beach chairs and other facilities that usually corrupt the beaches. Coral reefs hide in the blue and clear water for those who are not yet content with all the beauty around.

(Signed: Addi Katz)

A foot note: WORTH TO KNOW: The castle is located 35 km south of Taba, opposite Aqua-Sun. It includes only two bedrooms. Price per couple, for renting the whole castle is $ 1,000 per night. A tour of the castle should be coordinated in advance: (+2) 0128 2140 591. info@castlezaman.com


    The name is Hany Roshdy and he is the luckiest bastard in the world. Ok. , So what’s so special about him? For one, he lives in a wild, breath- taking castle, which overlooks Ras Burka bay. First there is the private pool, green lagoon a kind of a mountain pool built on the mountainside, passes through the dark and cold treasure room, it ends in a private suite built of stone, decorated in very good taste that would shut up every Israeli who says “look how the Egyptians have ruined Sinai “!
In addition to a all of this there is a Japanese koi fish pond, a huge fireplace with a window to the ocean even a young very hot Czech girl in a bikini who Hany insists on merely calling ‘ a friend”. Hany began as a businessman from Cairo who had a very successful T-shirt business. But quickly he discovered that money was not everything in life, and he moved to a small tent on the beach, grilling fish and letting innocent Europeans fall for his “Big Lebowski” charm. But then he had an idea; he would build the nearby red mountain that overlooks the bay. a huge castle in the style of ancient times, with influences from Nabatean tribes building techniques.
But what am I babbling about? As a guest you simply have to drive up the castle, drink cold beer and eat your heart out in the improvised pub he built.
 And no, he doesn’t know yet exactly what he is going to do with the place. He might rent it for parties, or he might make it a resort for honeymooners for the small amount of 1000$ /night.
You will be lucky if you are able to charm Hany and squeeze him for an invitation for a fish dinner on the red mountain at sunset. It is as Hue Heffneras can be, as paradise hotel, and best part is: offer me a room and I’m all yours “Hanny” bunny.
Yediot Ahronot  2/4/04