Royal Club Mohamed-Aly: Leisurely Getaway on the Outskirts of Cairo
“I was at Tahrir everyday and I was into change,” the veteran historian and owner of Royal Club Mohamed-Aly in Giza said in an interview with Cairo 360. “I was very unhappy with the military rule for 60 years. But now I can tell you I wish the revolution had not happened. A revolution without a leader, without an agenda, without a plan is doomed to destroy not to build.”
On the so-called ‘Friday of Anger’ following the first days of revolution last year, according to Farag, some 600 people carrying machine guns and other weapons stormed the nearly 15-year-old Mohamed-Aly and looted its grounds.
“They stole everything that could be stolen and destroyed everything that they could not carry,” says Farag.
The main clubhouse, which took 12 years to build, was set ablaze and its marble floors, smashed. Just beyond the main entrance, the scorched remains of classic automobiles including a Bentley from Farag’s collection lie as vestiges of the unfortunate day.
But what really sets Mohamed-Aly apart from the rest is its liberal atmosphere and strict policy against harassment.
“This is the only place a woman can walk in by herself in a bikini, jump in the water, and come out, and no one will dare to look. The first look I might let, but the second and I will deal with you. There’s no harassment at my club whatsoever,” says Farag.
If shaabi isn’t your scene, Mohamed-Aly encourages you to cross the bridge onto the club’s private island, BYOB (bring your own bottle), and hang under the quiet, shady tree-lined bank with the water literally at your feet. Here, a carpeted and pillow lounge invites us to a shisha and a beverage – the perfect spot to relax for a sunset view of the Nile.
Otherwise, regular membership at the club is annually renewed, and is 4500LE per person per year, 3500LE for spouse, and 2000LE for children under 18. Single day entry is 150LE and includes two complimentary drinks.
Though the revolution posed an awful setback for the club, Farag is resilient to provide Cairenes with the only spot in the city where we can bare all – almost all – and drink under the sun without the hassle of wide-eyed satyrs and virgins.
Soak up the last rays of summer and get away to a faraway place not too far from home.