Hotel Owner Makes Controversial Decision

A hotel in Egypt owned by a Saudi pours all its alcohol down the drain.

A decision by the Saudi owner of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Cairo to ban the sale of alcohol and destroy millions of dollars worth of beverages has sparked a debate in Egypt.

The Grand Hyatt occupies one of the most expensive sites overlooking the River Nile. It is only minutes from the diplomatic quarter, where the British and American embassies are located.

Like all five-star hotels in Egypt, alcohol used to be available there – but not any more. It is unclear what prompted the owner Sheik Al Brahim to take this controversial measure.

Staff at the hotel are reluctant to talk about the whole affair. But a barman told me that they now only serve soft drinks and that he saw with his own eyes how expensive whiskey, liqueurs and fine wines were emptied down the drains of the hotel.

Supporters of the decision say Egypt is a Muslim country and foreign visitors should respect local custom.

But critics say just as Muslims expect to be served Halal food on international flights, they should be prepared to respect the desires of their Western guests.

And Egyptian liberals see the incident as a clear example of how Saudi Arabia uses its financial muscle to spread its own puritanical brand of Islam to other countries.

“It can strangulate the Egyptian tourism industry… by imposing Islam on tourists who are not Muslims, and compulsory drunkenness on the Muslim fish of the River Nile,” he wrote, referring to reports that the stock was emptied in the river when the owner ordered staff to get rid of it.

It would be interesting if this Saudi opened up a hotel in Vegas. All smoking, no gambling or drinking.


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Filed under arab, Islamic relations, Salafism

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