DUBAI may be in the doldrums, but another, more familiar country in the Middle East is still doing well. Egypt has been a favourite tourist destination for more than 100 years – it's where Thomas Cook organised his first tours.
The growing level of tourism in recent years has opened up the property market on Egypt's Red Sea coast, with resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada able to offer year-round sunshine that simply isn't available in Europe, in combination with keen prices.
And now Luxor – home to the Valley of the Kings and many of Egypt's greatest antiquities – is also getting in on the act. Anglo-Egyptian developer Egyptian Experience is building Luxor's first tourism resort aimed at overseas buyers beside the Nile. The first phase opened last July and there are six more apartment blocks set to open by the end of 2010.
Jennette Bradbury, the company's UK-based co-founder, says: "We haven't gone a month during the recession without a sale. Egypt has so much to offer, and Luxor is really just an enormous open-air museum with one sixth of all the world's ancient heritage."
For £68,000 you can buy a two-bedroom, two bathroom apartment at the Egyptian Experience resort with spectacular views – and sunsets – over the Nile. The resort, 10 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from the Temple at Karnak, will have swimming pools, extensive landscaped gardens, restaurants and a private promenade when completed.
Bradbury says that apart from the profusion of history, Luxor appeals to those who want to experience the real Egypt. "Some friends of mine were thrilled to wander off from the resort and see donkeys pulling ploughs just like in Biblical times," she enthuses.
The Red Sea, meanwhile, appeals to those who want to enjoy water sports and the spectacular scuba diving on coral reefs. Sharm el Sheikh was empty desert 15 years ago, but is now a lively resort with golf and plentiful hotels and nightlife. Hurghada is much larger and stretches over 22 miles of coastline; property is still available there at bargain prices, with apartments for as little as £10,000 to £20,000.
Alexander Garrett is a freelance property writer who contributes regularly to The Observer and British Airways' Business Life.