In 566, Salaheddyn transported
ships upon camels from Cairo to this place, and recovered it from them.
Near Aila was formerly situated a large and handsome town, called
Aszyoun [Arabic],” (Eziongeber.)
My guides told me, that in the sea opposite to the above mentioned
promontory of Ras Koreye, there is a small island; they affirmed that
they saw it distinctly, but I could not, for it was already dusk when
they pointed it out, and the next morning a thick fog covered the gulf.
Upon this island, according to their statement, are ruins of infidels,
but as no vessels are kept in these parts,
[p.512] Ayd, who had been here several times, had never been able to
take any close view of them; they are described as extensive, and built
of hard stone, and are called El Deir, “the convent,” a word often
applied by Arabs to any ruined building in which they suppose that the
priests of the infidels once resided.
The Bedouins in the neighbourhood of Akaba, as I have already observed,
are the Alouein, Omran, and Heywat. They are all three entitled to a
passage duty from the Hadj caravan; the Alouein exact it as owners of
the district extending from the western mountain, across the plain to
Akaba; the Heywat, as the possessors of the country from the well of
Themmed, to the summit of the same mountain; and the Omran as masters of
the desert from Akaba southward as far as the vicinity of Moeleh.
Caravans of these tribes come occasionally to Cairo in search of corn,
but they are independent of the Pasha of Egypt, of which they give
proofs, by continually plundering the loads of the Hadj caravans, and of
all those who pass the great Hadj route through their districts.