CAIRO, Egypt Cairo's luxury Grand Hyatt hotel is serving alcohol again after a compromise was reached between the international chain and the hotel's Saudi owner who abruptly declared it a dry venue earlier this year.
The Saudi sheik's decision in April to follow Islam's ban on alcohol and stop serving it at one of the city's swankiest tourist landmarks shocked many in Egypt's vital tourism industry. All of Cairo's international hotel chains serve alcohol, as do many tourist restaurants.
The Cairo Grand Hyatt spokeswoman, Sally Khattab, said Tuesday that the Hyatt parent company reached a compromise with Saudi owner Sheik Abdelaziz al-Brahim that alcohol could be served in a single restaurant at the top of the hotel overlooking the Nile River.
Al-Brahim "decided to compromise by giving Hyatt a chance to fulfill their commitments by managing this serving of alcohol in a secluded restaurant on the 40th floor, so he would keep his hotel with the family atmosphere he would like to present to his guests," she told the Associated Press.
The revolving restaurant at the top of the hotel will now be managed by a special subsidiary of Hyatt separate from the Cairo hotel itself, so the sheik would not be involved with the promotion or sale of alcohol, she said.
Guests will also be able to order alcohol through room service. But the hotel's dozen other restaurants, including Japanese, Italian, Indian and Continental cuisine would remain alcohol free.
Alcohol is foribidden in Islam, though it is sold in most Muslim countries, except Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
Khattab said there had not been much negative feedback from guests during the four dry months before the compromise deal was reached July 23, because it coincided with the summer, when guests are predominantly from the conservative Gulf states.
The summer season "wouldn't give you the impact on the alcohol ban that much as if you were in the winter season, which features businesspeople and international tourists," she said.
Many of Cairo's luxury hotels are owned by wealthy Arab investors from the Gulf states, franchising with international chains. Despite rising Islamic conservatism in Egypt and the region, however, there has never been an attempt to ban alcohol, a move many in the tourism industry fear would drive visitors away.