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Twenty years ago, the modern and visionary Egyptian Gomaa Abu El Fadl decided to open a pub in the city of Luxor, one of the main touristic points in Egypt.
In a country where more than 80% of the population is Muslim, you can imagine it wasn’t easy for Gomaa Fadl to establish his dream over there.
After many boycotts and threatens from government and even from the population The King’s Head Pub survived and nowadays can be considered one of the attractions in the city.
Luxor is a must for the ones visiting the temples of the Pharaonic Era, on the other hand it becomes sometimes suffocating due to the high level of harassment from the locals. For this reason, many tourists find in the pub a refugee for the stress of the city.
In 2007, after the unexpected death of his father Gomaa Fadl, Shady Gomaa took control of the family business. Now, Shady tells Monday Feelings more about this history and explain how the pub owner’s life is in a traditional society.

pub in egypt

MondayFeelings: The King’s Head was the first pub in Luxor, created by your father in 1994. Can you tell us why your father wanted to open a pub in Egypt?
Shady Gomaa: My father opened an English pub in Luxor because he loved the style and atmosphere of English pubs. And as 90% of our guests in Luxor are English guests, he thought that would be a great business opportunity to have.

MF: You are the owner now. Have you always known you would take over your father’s business? Were you preparing yourself to manage the pub?
S.G.: Yes, I always knew I would take over the pub. I studied three years in Germany to prepare myself to take over the pub. Unfortunately, it was a bit sooner than I expected as my father died in 2007 and I was just 19 years old. But, in the end, I always knew I will do it and now, I am glad I have that.

MF: Even though you are Egyptian, you grew up in Germany. How was the shock of culture moving from Germany to Egypt, if any?
S.G.: Of course there was a shock coming from Germany back to Egypt because they are two different cultures. But, as I have lived the first 10 years of my life in Egypt, I quickly re-adapted to it. There are differences between the German and Egyptian life but both have their good sides and bad sides.

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MF: We know that Egypt is more than 80% Muslims, who do not drink alcohol. For this reason, we understand the beginning was not easy. Can you tell us a bit more about the public reaction when you first opened the pub? And also, how people look at it today?
S.G.: Of course there was a scandal when my father opened in 1994 the pub because people did not know what it is and, of course, because of the alcohol. But over the years it got adapted and even to prove that, more than four other pubs opened in Luxor. My father had a tough time in the beginning but once people saw it is a very good business opportunity and making good money other places opened of course, and then people accepted.

MF: Who are your public? Do you also serve Egyptians or mainly foreigners?
S.G.: Most of our guests are of course Europeans and mostly British guests. But even now Egyptians are starting to get the feeling for the pubs and going out and having drinks. It still not really ok with the society so people do not like to do it publicly but the new generation of Egypt is now more westernised and going out like in Europe.

MF: How was your pub affected by the revolution?
S.G.: The pub was affected very badly by the revolution, of course, like all the tourism in Egypt. Luxor has been affected most of the city of all but through our reputation of being opened for 20 years and we have our loyal guests and repeated guests we still kept going through even me paying a lot of out my own pocket just to not close the pub and hopefully it will get better soon.

MF: The King’s Head is now opened for more than 20 years. Do you think you already have the secret for success or do you see more changes, more adaptability to keep the business successfully running? How do you see your business in 10 years from now?
S.G.: I see that the pub has a secret to success but of course we will always have to keep changing and updating, especially with the new generation coming and everything changing and that. I think if we keep going straight ahead we will succeed more and more. Hopefully, I see the pub in 10 year’s time still on the top of one of the best pubs in Luxor and hopefully in the future my kids will take over so the family business can go on.

MF: What is the relevance of your pub for the tourists in Luxor?
S.G.: The pub in Luxor is relevant for tourist because is the place where they come after a long day of sightseeing and hassle, to relax. Especially from the Brits where is a place they can feel a bit at home away from home.

MF: What is the highlight of your time as a pub owner in Luxor?
S.G.: The highlight of being a pub owner in Luxor is you meet different people from all over the world every day and you always learn something new.