English is a constantly evolving language and that is perhaps what makes it so beautiful – even if what you utter today is considered wrong or incorrect or just pure rubbish has a chance of making its way into common parlance over time, and, if Indians catch on to it, into Webster!
So, after phrases like Jumping the shark and Nuking the fridge, get ready for the latest simile on the block: as dry as a hotel.
More precisely, as dry as a hotel owned by a rich Sheikh but that’s just being puritan. In case you haven’t heard, the Hyatt in Cairo recently poured about a million dollars worth of liquor into the Nile. The Saudi Sheikh who owns the place wants to put in place a code of conduct in line with his religion. So the local English pub now serves teas and the likes and the nearby Hard Rock Cafe is the only watering hole in the desert.
I think this is the most bizarre and ridiculous mixing of religion and what has come to be seen as acceptable international cultures and norms. I think it is yet another classic example of double standards that are most prevalent and common in societies which still wield a garb of traditionalism: at one end they enforce old-school and archaic laws and regimes and at the other end they dissolve and dilute boundaries that constrain them from having some “Western” fun.
How else could one explain the scores of Arab women who board flights in their traditional attire but alight at Dubai international in the latest spring-summer, flaunting brands, legs, et al.
I agree that respect for a religion is essential but not at the cost of another’s freedom. If a country wants to be truly international, then it will have to learn to let break free of certain typecasting moulds. Iconoclasm if you may but within understandable limits.
Long term, this will affect business, both in hospitality and elsewhere not because they are based on the presence and liberal distribution of alcohol but because it sends out a bad signal: alcohol today, god knows what next tomorrow. This is a direct confrontment of basic human rights that every government should ideally be able to guarantee to its people as also to others who visit for business or pleasure, and seems to revert entire nations to anarchic forms of autocratic lawlessness.
Writing off alcohol to make a place pious is as daft as having lesser chimneys to make the air cleaner.
So, long story short, I am moving to Cairo. I may not have much by way of work opportunities left but if other hotels follow suite and pour the river more potent,I could happily continue being an alcoholic and living in de-Nile…