Normally, having a luxury hotel just steps from the cultural heart of a major international capital is great for business. Sometimes, it's an invitation for disaster, as the Semiramis InterContinental in Cairo found out last night. The four-star lodge overlooks the Nile in the heart of downtown, but is also just one long block from Tahrir Square, the once and current home of tens of thousands of feuding revolutionaries.
Even that is typically not much of a problem—until last night when a group of masked men broke off from the main mob and stormed the lobby of the hotel. They reportedly ransacked the main entrance and looted an ATM machine. They also sent a desperate social media team scrambling for someone, anyone, to come and help. Even Twitter users would have sufficed in a pinch like this:
THUGS HAVE ENTERED THE IC SEMIRAMIS ON THE CORNICHE!— InterContinental (@ICSEMIRAMIS) January 29, 2013
There were actually several more tweets like these, shouting into the ether for assassitance. Then they tried a different tactic:
Liam Stack is a reporter for The New York Times, who presumably is among the many journalists who have stayed at the InterContinental while covering Egypt's revolution. He did his best to help, but unfortunately there wasn't a whole lot to be done from his vantage point. They kept trying:
Finally, after more than a hour of frantic tweeting, the calvary arrived.
Special forces are on scene and handling the situation. Thank you to everyone for your help and speedy response to our SOS!— InterContinental (@ICSEMIRAMIS) January 29, 2013
To clarify we contacted all relevant authorise & later media to draw attention as the break in attempts increased & aid had not yet arrived.— InterContinental (@ICSEMIRAMIS) January 29, 2013
The priority for IC is undoubtedly the lives & safety of our guests & colleagues.— InterContinental (@ICSEMIRAMIS) January 29, 2013
Thank you all revolutionaries that stood by us last night...You are awesome#jan2813— InterContinental (@ICSEMIRAMIS) January 29, 2013
In the end it appears, that no one was seriously hurt and the perpetrators—not revolutionaries, but just criminals trying to take advantage of the chaos—were arrested. Although, several guests obviously felt it best to find other accomodations.
All in all, a pretty eventful night for the hotel staff and for Twitter. Certainly more exciting than that the tweets they usually send out. This was the last transmission, sent before the current round of protests began last Friday:
Greeks may claim the creation but the Lebanese mastered this traditional dish! Join us @ Sabaya to decide for yourself! ow.ly/i/1pwyI— InterContinental (@ICSEMIRAMIS) January 23, 2013