Last weekend, my friends and I called up Andiamo in Hacienda for reservations. The man on the phone very politely requested us to e-mail him a list of the people in our group with links to our Facebook pages. This wasn’t the first time I go to a place that requested me to do that, but my friends (who haven’t lived in Egypt for the past five years) found the request very strange—and offensive. Nevertheless, we did as he said, got a confirmation and went to Andiamo.
I should start by expressing how much I love the place. It wasn’t my first time there. The view is gorgeous, the pizza is delicious, the staff is over-the-top friendly, and the overall mood is fun and laid back. But the fact that they asked me for my Facebook profile link made me feel judged. Being me, I walked over to the man in charge of reservations and was up front about how I think asking for my account’s link is an invasion of privacy. He (no, I won’t say any names!) told me quite honestly, “Even you wouldn’t enjoy coming here if I let just anyone in. The reason you’re enjoying yourself is because you’re surrounded by people of your social standard and background.” He went on to explain the process, how they check mutual friend, etc, and that they try to turn down any groups that don’t fit their criteria as politely as possible by simple saying, “Sorry, we’re fully booked.” (My title is an exaggeration to get your attention!)
I went home that night feeling rather confused about how I feel. He does have a point, but I don’t know where I stand about this policy. After all, it’s a pizza bar—not a social club or a job interview. What’s next? An online numerical test? I am, after all, a customer, and “customer is king.” It’s as absurd as Prada salesmen asking perspective buyers for their Facebook profiles to make sure they’re of Prada standards. If that’s the case, we need to start updating our profiles more frequently—our life depends on it! (Yes, I’m being sarcastic) I don’t think this is what Mark Zuckerberg had in mind when he created Facebook.
I remember my older friends talking about Omar Rateb (I was underage when Andrea was “in”), who very bluntly—and often rudely—accepted or rejected people on the door. Once he even told a group of people, “Mcdonald’s min henak ya habayby!” (Translation: they fit better in McDonald’s than in a fancy, fine dining restaurant) I always found it very offensive, but isn’t this what is happening now?
Other than Egypt, no other country has rules that stretch beyond dress codes and the like. And I have a theory why: Egypt’s social classes are too diverse. Go to a bar or a club in Spain that doesn’t have any sort of door policy, and the differences in the customers’ social standards are within a reasonable range. In Egypt, we’re too divergent to the point where people may feel uncomfortable around others who are dissimilar to them. I always say clubs that have a “no veil” rule is unnecessary since any veiled woman in her right mind wouldn’t even want to go to a club. Is that not the case? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe not.
This issue is highly debatable. What’s your opinion?
BY HANA KOTB