Egypt opens alcohol-free hotel in popular Red Sea resort

Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:26pm EDT
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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian tourism managers celebrated the opening of an alcohol-free hotel at the popular beach resort of Hurghada over the weekend, a move they hoped would lure conservative Muslim tourists to a region popular with foreign and local visitors.

Le Roi Hotel is one of the first "dry" hotels to open on Egypt's Red Sea coast, and comes as liberals voice concerns that Islamists who came to power last year were seeking to limit personal freedoms and impose conservative ideology.

They also worry such hotels could deter foreign tourists, whose numbers dropped sharply after the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Yasser Kamal, the owner of the hotel, played down its political significance.

"The idea of launching a hotel without alcohol is not to adhere to any particular movement but rather to provide a new kind of tourism," he told the MENA state news agency.

A YouTube video showed hotel managers celebrating the launch by lining up bottles of alcohol on the curb outside the building before pouring out their contents and smashing them.

The hotel, which has 134 rooms and 35 suites, has allocated the top floor and a swimming pool to women only - conservative Muslims believe in the segregation of unrelated males and females.

Most mainstream Islamic scholars also agree that Islam forbids alcohol consumption.

Around 14.5 million people visited Egypt in 2010, accounting for 10 percent of economic activity and earning the country $12.5 billion.   Continued...