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Café Riche: Egypt’s Revolutionary Location

December 21, 2021

Café Riche is a cozy temple for the initiated: strangers gather in clusters, exchange book briefs under an undated photograph of Um Kalthoum, and sip sugared, home-brewed tea. There’s an air of knowing, maybe even intrigue; from revolutionaries to renegades, Café Riche has hosted some of Egypt’s greatest thinkers and sweetest songbirds for over a century. And it has always been this way: select, alluring, enigmatic. As one of Cairo’s most infamous spots, Café Riche was established in the early 20th century by a French national with a penchant for a good time and a better drink. It was passed down from owner to owner several generations until finding its name intertwined with the Abdel-Malek family. Located in the heart of Cairo’s downtown, a historic location for an enduring cultural landmark, Café Riche has a fabled reputation for accommodating intellect and, on some occasions, danger. Local legend has it that Gamal Abdel-Nasser organized the Free Officers at the cafe, prior to overthrowing late King Farouk I in a 1952 coup d’état. Ibrahim Mansour, intellectual and El-Sadat detractor, was put in cuffs after an fervent political tirade against the 1970 Israel-Egypt…

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