Developers were not content to simply build on the existing landscape. To give seaside views and easy access to the water to as many El Gouna residents and guests as possible, builders dredged huge amounts of sand from coastal bays and inlets to sculpt the canals, marinas, hotels, and artificial islands of the resort.
The changes to the coast are evident in this pair of natural-color images acquired by sensors on Landsat satellites. The top image was captured by the Thematic Mapper (TM) on Landsat 5 in 1985; the bottom image was captured by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 in 2014.
While El Gouna has pledged to become a carbon neutral town, the resort has come with a cost for the local environment, particularly the coral reef ecosystems that make the area so appealing. Construction of coastal hotels and other infrastructure often involved the destruction of fringing reefs along the coastlines, caused by the dredging or dumping of large amounts of sediment.