Islamism,  Religion

Bone dry in Cairo

What would John Mills be thinking? You drive all that way across the desert only to find there’s nothing on offer but a lousy Wahhabi sanctioned fruit cordial? It’s deeply distressing to read in the Guardian today how the actions of the Saudis are destroying Egyptian culture after sheikh Abdel Aziz Ibrahim owner of the Grand Hyatt hotel complex turned the place dry earlier this year.

The paper reports on the case of the Duke’s pub, housed in the complex, and which is now next to deserted after staff at the Hyatt were ordered to empty every bottle of alcohol into the Nile. It was all washed away.

Tourists wanting a beer are forced to go to the Hard Rock cafe, which is still serving, but really it is a bit of an injustice to be forced to go to a place like that.

Sheikh Abdel Aziz Ibrahim is one of a number of oil rich Saudis who are snapping up parts of more liberal Egypt and its entertainment and leisure business. From film businesses to belly-dancing it is all apparently being snapped up by big oil bucks and used to spread Saudi Arabia’s hardline form of Islamism in neighbouring states. Not surprisingly the Hard Rock is owned by another Saudi – Hassan bin Laden, half brother of Osama.

The piece in the Guardian goes onto argue that the crack down on the banned Muslim Brotherhood leaves the country open to puritanical assault by the Wahhabi’s who clearly have their supporters.

But 52-year-old Duke’s barman Amir is not one of them: “We don’t get many customers any more. It’s an act, just for show. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve been pulling pints and mixing cocktails here for 15 years, and I’m too old now to move on.”

More than 10m foreigners visit Egypt each year and the Boston Globe reports that already that the alcohol ban has been hard on the Hyatt’s business with hundreds of cancellations.