Tiran Island

The Straits of Tiran , are the narrow sea passages, about 13 km (8 miles) wide, between the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas which separates the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea.

It is named after Tiran Island located at its inflow, on which the Multinational Force and Observers has an observation post to monitor the compliance of Egypt in maintaining freedom of navigation of the straits as provided under the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.

Sanafir Island lies to the east of Tiran, southeast of the shallow strait between Tiran and Saudi Arabia.

Access to Jordan's only seaport of Aqaba and to Israel's only Indian Ocean seaport of Eilat is contingent upon passage through the Gulf of Aqaba, giving the Straits of Tiran strategic importance. Egypt's blockade of the Straits to Israeli ships and ships bound for Israel in 1956 and again in 1967 was a catalyst to the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the Six-Day War in 1967.

International documents inconsistently refer to both the "Straits of Tiran" and the "Strait of Tiran". There are several passages formed by the islands between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The westernmost strait, between Egypt and the island of Tiran, overlooked by the Egyptian city Sharm el-Sheikh is the "Strait of Tiran". It has two passages deep enough to be navigable by large ships. The Enterprise passage, 950 feet (290 m) deep, is right next to the Egyptian side, while the 240-foot-deep Grafton passage, surrounded by shallows, is to the east, nearer to the island of Tiran. To the east of Tiran, between it and Saudi Arabia, the other strait has reefs and shallows with a single channel 54 feet (16 m) deep.

A project to build a 9.3-mile (15.0 km) bridge across the straits, linking Egypt and Saudi Arabia, is under consideration by the Egyptian government. A bridge at this point would bypass Israel, which physically stands between the Arab lands of Africa and the Arab lands of Southwest Asia.