This afternoon was clear and sunny, a usual occurrence in Cairo, and for me, the perfect time to have a beer in a riverside cafÃ©. I chose a well appointed open restaurant, with great views of the majestic Nile, complete with feluccas sailing upstream. Yet I fled disappointment and dry mouthed. Why?
Egypt is a mainly Muslim country, and while it is relatively liberal and secular, public consumption of alcohol is still a social taboo. There isn’t any beer, wine, or spirits in a normal riverside cafÃ©, or even most local restaurants. I knew this before I went, but it wasn’t until I was confronted by an embarrassed Cairo waiter whispering to me like I was asking for porn, that I realized exactly how dry Egypt is.
If you want a drink with dinner, or just a beer in the afternoon, you’re pretty much confined to either high-end Western hotels (I was in the Sheraton Galae Square) or Western-focused restaurants. Sidewalk cafes only serve tea or coffee and smoking hookah.Read More
Rafik Baha ad-Din Hariri was a self-made billionaire and business tycoon, and twice the Prime Minister of Lebanon. As Prime Minister, he not only rebuilt the city, even using his own funds, he rebuilt the pride of the Middle East by showing that a Sunni Muslim could be Western, wealthy, and inclusive of all religions in political leadership.
Sadly, in 2005 he was assassinated in a massive car bomb attack in downtown Beirut. The public outcry after his death at the assumed guilt of Syria, lead to the Cedar Revolution withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after a 30 years of occupation.
Because of this, Hariri is a hero to the people of Lebanon, revered almost as a founding father of the country, and his image is everywhere. During on Beirut part night, I was given a Hariri pin to wear on my coat lapel, and I’ve worn it since with great pride.Read More