Royal Dining: Cairo's Abdeen Palace opens for iftar

Ahram Online , Sunday 9 Apr 2023

Abdeen Palace, Egypt’s 160-year-old royal heritage site, has opened its gilded doors for public dining during Ramadan, sparking some public dismay.

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The palace is hosting its first “Mawlay” experience, offering lavish Iftar and Sohour meals in the palace’s grand dining hall accompanied by a live orchestra. 

The event has been met with controversy, with some arguing that commercializing such a historic royal landmark is improper. However, others have praised the opulence and ambiance of the experience. The Mawlay dining series operates during Ramadan and hosts meals at some of Egypt’s most prestigious cultural venues, with private tours of Abdeen Palace also available to book. 

Built in 1863 during the reign of Khedive Ismail, Abdeen Palace served as the governmental headquarters and royal residence until 1952. This marks the first time that the public has been allowed to dine within its storied walls, giving visitors a taste of its magnificence while breaking fast. 

For a few hours each evening during Ramadan, diners can now soak in that history and grandeur over an opulent Iftar in the company of royalty.  The Mawlay experience allows access into the palace’s lavish world, if only for the evening. For 1800 EGP, Cairo’s grandest royal residence has opened wide.

Built in 1863 during the reign of Khedive Ismail, Abdeen Palace served as the governmental headquarters and royal residence until 1952. This marks the first time that the public has been allowed to dine within its storied walls, giving visitors a taste of its magnificence while breaking fast. 

The royal palace, that stands today as a museum celebrating Egypt’s vibrant culture, has borne witness to pivotal moments in the country's history. It was once home to Khedive Ismail and King Farouk, and the site of King Farouk’s 1938 wedding and 1937 coronation. In 1936, the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty ending Britain’s occupation of Egypt was signed at the palace. The 1952 revolution which ousted the monarchy also took place on its grounds. 

Most significantly, the palace hosted the signing of the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, ending decades of conflict between the two nations. President Anwar Sadat, President Jimmy Carter, and Prime Minister Menachem Begin were present at the momentous occasion.

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