Aqeeda: Saudi Businessman bans alcohol at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Cairo

Posted on May 23, 2008


By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC News, Cairo

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 international company which runs the hotel has urged Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Brahim – a relative of the Saudi king – to revoke his decision, fearing it could drive away Western tourists and may even lead to the hotel losing its five-star rating.

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.

He said it took his colleagues a whole day to go through the hotel’s entire stock of alcoholic drinks. Does he feel sorry for that, I asked? He chuckled.

Financial muscle

The move has sparked fears that other hotels may follow suit, which could hit the tourism industry, one of the pillars of the Egyptian economy.

Egyptian columnist Suleiman Gouda wrote that if the owner wanted to invest in the international tourism industry, then he had to play by the well-known rules of the business. [more]

Please click here to read the whole article from the BBC.

Note from Rafik Beekun: Islam is clear on the issue of alcohol. We congratulate the Saudi business leader, and deplore the hypocrisy of the Egyptian media and tourist business.