EGYPT: Liquor is back at the Hyatt, but not everywhere


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Liquor is flowing -- well, let’s say trickling -- again at the Grand Hyatt on the Nile. After a dry summer, the Saudi owner of the hotel made concessions this week to the Hyatt international chain by partially lifting a ban he had imposed on alcohol.

A few months ago, Sheikh Abdel Aziz Ibrahim, a relative of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, stunned the tourism business when he gave orders to dump more than $1 million worth of alcoholic beverages into the Nile River. The decision, driven by Islamic religiosity, stirred anger in the circles of the country’s tourism leaders, who threatened to demote the five-star hotel to two stars.


Yet, this is not to assume that the Saudi sheikh made major concessions. Liquor is back, but will not be served everywhere in the luxurious resort. Visitors can sip their beer and martinis only in a secluded 40th floor restaurant. The owner’s spokeswoman, Sally Khattab, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that her boss’ decision allowed him ‘keep his hotel with the family atmosphere he would like to present to his guests.”

Khattab added that this isolated restaurant will be managed by a different company so to keep the sheikh aloof from any alcohol business.

Guests are left with another option; They can order alcohol through room service.

—Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo