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Regional focus


hen it opened soon after the revolution, the Nile Hilton announced the coming of a new Cairo. It was built, first of all, on the site of an old barracks – previously occupied by Egypt’s oppressors. Then there was the design, all smooth lines and steel and utilitarian staircases zigzagging up and down, the very epitome of the modern age. Inside was just the same. There were grand ballrooms with handsome frescos on the walls, and in the lobby, guests could sit and sip cocktails in fabric chairs. And when they were tired, they could retire to their rooms, with balconies that looked out to the Nile and on to the pyramids beyond.


Life on the Nile W


With spectacular beaches and a deep well of historical sites, Egypt has traditionally been one of the titans of global hospitality, welcoming millions of tourists each year. Yet since the upheavals of 2011, the country’s hotels have struggled. But for how long? Andrea Valentino talks to figures across Egyptian hospitality to learn about the challenges of the pandemic, how major investments in museums and infrastructure are boosting demand for new resorts, and what the future holds for Egypt and its tourists.


None of this probably makes much sense, unless you understand which revolution I’m referring to. Not the ragged uprising of 2011, much less the ‘revolution’ of 2013, where Egypt’s military squashed a democratic government and killed hundreds. No, the Nile Hilton opened in 1959, seven years after the 1952 revolution when Egypt was giddily and irrepressibly optimistic. The barracks it replaced once hosted occupying British soldiers, and the country had just defeated a trio of foes in the Suez Crisis. Egypt was, in short, the nation of the moment. Little wonder that, in those heady days, Egyptians habitually proclaimed their country as umm al-dunya – the mother of the world.


Hotel Management International / www.hmi-online.com


Hotel Management International / www.hmi-online.com


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AlexAnton/Shutterstock.com AlexAnton/Shutterstock.com


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