Egypt: Niel Bush Family Visits El-Gouna, Egypt

Neil Bush Family Visits El Gouna

By Hazel Heyer

From left to right, Kenneth Leonard, Ashley Bush, Neil Bush, Hamza El Khouli,
Pierce Bush pose in front of El Gouna's Sheraton Miramar Hotel

Hazel Heyer interviews the US Presidents brother, Neil Bush, who recently vacationed in El Gouna with his family. Learn more about the El Gouna Holiday Destination at

In March, at the Egypt International Economic Forum in Cairo, after a 20-minute presentation by Neil Bush on Ignite! Learning System, I approached the US presidents brother and was told, to my surprise, that he and his family would soon be vacationing on the Red Sea. What a scoop! The son of one US president (George Bush Sr.) and brother of current US president (George W. Bush) taking a holiday in El Gouna was not news to be missed.

Neil Bush has recently initiated a revolutionary interactive learning tool in the United States, which he calls the Ignite! Learning System. Ignite! is a computer program designed to replace classroom textbooks and help teachers teach and students learn more effectively. In his youth, Neil Bush suffered from dyslexia, and his 7th grade teachers told his mother, Barbara Bush, that he would not graduate from high school. Bush triumphed in his challenge to live with dyslexia, and was inspired to promote ways of learning such as Ignite! to enable children to be better educated by methods that help them develop their full learning potential. Ignite! will be launched in the United States this summer, actively promoted by members of Neil Bushs family, including two of his children, Ashley and Pierce.

On 21 March 2001, together with his family and Ignite! CEO Kenneth Leonard, Neil Bush arrived in El Gouna aboard the luxurious private plane owned by his host Hamza El Khouli, chairman of the First Arabian Development Company.

I set about gathering more about the familys itinerary and managed to catch up with Neil just after he emerged from an exciting ride on a micro-light aircraft. The 46-year-old younger brother and one-time campaign manager of George W. Bush enthusiastically praised El Gouna, calling his experience unforgettable.

"Wasnt that awesome?" said Bush as he stepped down from the craft. "Pierce and I had a swinging time on board the plane", he went on, with his hair still windswept from the flight.

Heyer: How have you liked your stay in this resort town?

Bush: We had the best time in Egypt here in El Gouna. First of all, this is our first visit to Egypt as a family. My wife Sharon and my daughters have been to Luxor and Cairo, but never to the Red Sea. Weve heard so much about the snorkeling and diving here, so we decided to spend a portion of our trip in this part of Egypt. I dive, but Im not a master. My wife has been diving many times, but this is actually the first time for us to dive together as family. The best thing is that the kids are now old enough (the youngest being 12 and the oldest, 16) for us to do grown-up, adult things together - like the micro-light ride. We loved seeing the desert, the sea and the resorts from up there.

Heyer: How does the creation of this paradise in the desert strike you?

Bush: Its unbelievable. Ive not seen anything like this before. Ive not been to a desert location, so I dont have anything to compare this to. But it definitely projects itself as a huge success a resort created by Samih Sawiris with a thoroughly organized, well-planned community supporting it.

Heyer: What appeals to you most about El Gouna, and what was your most memorable local experience?

Bush: The architecture here is superb. Michael Graves design, with the play of shapes and vibrant colors, is incredible. To the senses, this is all visually pleasing, tranquil and peaceful! As I am a lover of sports, action and adventure, the highlights of this trip are the scuba diving and the ultra-light flight.

Heyer: How do you like Egyptian cuisine?

Bush: We had an excellent lunch consisting of dark cinnamon rice, fresh fish and delicious grilled meats. I enjoy foods of different countries and cultures, although honestly, I am not a big fish fan.

Heyer: Despite mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease, do you still eat a meat-filled diet?

Bush: Why not, being Texan, I am a real cowboy, living on meat. Foot-and-mouth disease only affects livestock and wont kill me. It doesnt worry me a bit.

Heyer: After this talk of good food, what sports do you play or what do you do for exercise, if anything?

Bush: Well, there are a few things that I enjoy. I love tennis, jogging and playing basketball with my best guard on the court, my twelve-year-old beauty Ashley. I try to exercise at least three to four times a week. I need to keep in shape, otherwise I tend to slow down and get lazy. My immediate family is the number one and critical priority in my life. So when I am not traveling, I spend most of my time with them doing fun stuff.

Heyer: How would you describe your stay here in El Gouna?

Answered by Pierce Bush: El Gouna is an exhilarating place. I thoroughly loved every moment of it. My favorite activity was flying on the ultra-light. I loved scuba diving in such a vibrant sea, and I liked the great hosts that took us around, and all the people in El Gouna that treated us with great care. I hope I have the opportunity to return soon.

This article originally appeared in the June 2001 issue of the magazine, El Gouna. For more information about El-Gouna, visit