BEIT" architecture magazine - Jan 2008 Edition
to enlarge (link opens in a
new window) or
Download article and
pictures - 1.7 MB
Mix-Mag Sharm el
Sheikh January 2007
Mountain meets Sea
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)
Zaman, overlooking the sea,
is an exclusive outing that
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
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
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 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 blocks, 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
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
, 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
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
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:
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. email@example.com
THE MOST EXCENTRIC MILLIONAIRE
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