El Gouna EN BREF  #3
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the El Gouna International Squash Open


One of the great pleasures of this event is the lunch time - well, sort of lunch time - that we get to spend at Moods.

Moods is one of the sponsors of the event. It's a beautiful restaurant/ private beach at the end of El Gouna’s stunning marina. We are welcome to have our lunchthere, which was at 5pm for the three first days.

To be honest, that Marina, is a bit like a “Toy Town”. Everything is just… pretty… clean… lovely flowers… and the boats… That is just like Monte-Carlo, only just a bit smaller, and without the French – which is always a great advantage, I’m told...

To get to Moods from the Glass Court, you just walk through some cute little mews, arrive on the yachts, and take the left bank till the far end, passing so many restaurants, clothes shops, even a bank, on the way, to finally arrive at Moods.

Frankly, it’s a beautiful, relaxed place, with nice shade if like me you stay away from the sun, parasols both at the restaurant and the beach, or full blast sun, if you like that sort of thing.

And the food is just really delicious. I’ve been killing their grilled seafood platter, but the refs – we finish at the same time, and I finish my last report/quotes while we are waiting for the food – have been tasting every day different dishes, and apparently, there is nothing wrong there!

So remember, Moods, end of the Marina. Simple.


A little bit of homework for you. Just google the name Samih Sawiris, and look at amazing this gentleman's career and achievements are.

Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Orascom Development,  listed on the Forbes Millionaire List, he happens to be the Man behind this tournament, who had the excellent idea to join with Amr Mansi to create this beautiful event.

Looking at his profile, you would expect - at least I was - somebody Sarkozy's style, Bling-Bling, a bit arrogant and very loud.

Couldn't have been more wrong.

He was kindly introduced to us upon our arrival, and met all the players, officials, etc. and I cannot remember having seen him since.

On the semis night, I see some animation in front of me (I'm in the first row of the seating, just behind the Sponsors Sofas), as one of the sponsors is trying to attract the attention of somebody way at the back.

That "somebody way at the back" is of course, our Mr Sawiris. As the play has started when he arrived, he didn't want to disturb anybody, and quietly, went to the back...

I promise you. In all my years in Squash, that's the first time EVER I see something like that.

But my surprise was even bigger when I approached him a bit later - when he finally accepted to come and sit on the Sponsors Sofas - to thank him and congratulate him for the wonderful event. He just started to speak to me in French, and knew exactly who I was, after only seeing me for about 5 seconds, 7 days before.

Impressed. Bet your squash racquet. What a man. WHAT A MAN.




Remember the previous En Bref edition, when I told you that our stay in Movenpick had been greatly helped, and that it was all sorted, cushion, tea, etc.

Well, it's all thank to that lovely lady, whose name in Egyptian I just cannot spell, but I tell you what, I know it mean "Victoria". If any of you Egyptian readers can help...

She preceded us in opening the court at the Movenpick on the semis' night, made sure that the court cleaner was here, that the air con was on, lights, she opened the Health Club to allow the boys could use the basic facilities.

We were lucky that she was actually watching the match on the glass court, and quickly acted when things got difficult.

So, thanks ever so much Victoria....

The "Crowd"
for the semi James/Karim


Just in case you don't know, instead on a single door at the front of the court, that allowed players to communicate (sometimes lively) with the audience/officials, the new glass court has two side doors, at the far back of the court, on both sides.

Frankly, I didn’t have any preconceived idea about it. I was told it’s all about improving TV image quality, so, at first sight, all for it.

But now, the jury is still out….

First, I don’t really like the fact there are two doors. We are losing the closeness I feel, entrance, separate door, exit, separate doors. I’m not sure I like the feel of it. Plus the players liked that entrance close to the audience.

Then, I really don’t like – and apparently so do the players I spoke to so far, but the week is still young – the fact that we are completely cut from the players.

Often, they serve us with lovely stingers or one-liners that are the charm and specificity of our sport. A few discussions as well, but come on, less and less since we have both three refs and video reviewing.

Plus, apparently, players told me that they absolutely cannot hear the refs at all, and feel very cut off and that the crowd/refs are far away.

“It’s not about the doors, it’s about the atmosphere, you are separated from your opponent, it feels like a long way away, and you can’t hear the ref properly" told me one of the top players”…

Once again, it’s early days, and I’m sure we’ll all get on with it if we really have to, but… do we REALLY have to?

Issue ONE
Issue TWO