Meaning of 'ARISH, AL- in English


also spelled El-arish, town and largest settlement of the Sinai Peninsula in the northeastern section, on the Mediterranean coast, the capital of Egypt's Shamal Sina' (Northern Sinai) muhafazah (governorate). It was under Israeli military administration from 1967 to 1979, when it returned to Egyptian rule. It is near the mouth of the Wadi al-'Arish, which is the longest seasonal watercourse of the Sinai. Known as Rhinocorura (or Rhinocolura) to classical authors, the town is mentioned from at least the 2nd century BC. The Roman general Titus prepared his invasion of Judaea there (1st century AD). Later, Baldwin I, crusader king of Jerusalem, died there while returning from an Egyptian expedition (1118). It was prosperous as a Muslim trade centre in the European Middle Ages. Taken by Napoleon during his unsuccessful Palestine campaign (1799), Al-'Arish was the site of the signing of an abortive treaty providing for the French evacuation of Egypt. In the early 20th century Al-'Arish and its environs were proposed as a site for Zionist colonization near, but not in, Palestine; the scheme was vetoed by Lord Cromer, British administrator of Egypt (1902). In 1906, when the administrative boundary between Egypt and Ottoman dominions proper was demarcated from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Aqaba, Al-'Arish was placed definitively in Egypt. The town was formerly a station on the trans-Sinai railway, built by Britain in World War I; after 1967, however, Israel destroyed the line from Al-'Arish to the Suez Canal for security reasons. The local economy is based on agriculture (date palms, castor beans), fishing, and quail trapping; there is a small castor-oil-producing plant. Commercial fishing in Lake al-Bardawil began in the late 1970s. Coal deposits just to the south of the town are used to fuel an electric-power plant that was started in the early 1980s. The governorate's offices are headquartered there, and the town has become a transfer point for materials passing between Egypt and Israel overland. Tourist facilities were opened in 1980 as well. Al-'Arish is linked by highway to the Suez Canal zone and Israel. It also has an airfield. Pop. (1986 prelim.) 67,638.

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