Friday, 30 June 2017

The Day I Became Bill Gate’s Elevator Boy




One day as I was working for a famous 5-Star hotel in Cairo my manager, Rady, called me up to his office to meet two secret services agents from the American Embassy. I came to find out that the following week Bill Gates will be having a TV interview and a meal at the property. The agents were there to check the building out in terms of security. I was a 25-year-old Manager on Duty then and with being that employee who had graduated from an American University and spoke proper English, the job was assigned to me.



I took the two gentlemen around the hotel for a 20-minute tour, showing them all the entrances and exists and answering all their questions. I also took them to the roof on the 42nd floor above the Revolving Restaurant as well as the lower floor by the Nile. We finally exchanged business cards before I escorted them to the main entrance and bid them farewell.

The interview was to take place in one of the two Royal Suites, so obviously the entire hotel was getting ready for that super-duper VIP visit.

First, it’s the immaculate housekeeping which was personally supervised by the Executive Housekeeper, a lovely short German woman named Helga.

Then the Engineering to make sure that all lights and electric appliances are working perfectly.

Followed by the flower arrangement which was the duty of a lady, Nermine, who owned a flower shop at the hotel.

Finally it was the F&B and the preparation of the meal. The executive chef was Belgium and a little mad; I can’t seem to remember his name now but I did like him and we got along well. 




Amusingly, the following memory came to mind while writing about this story. In the beginning of the 20th century the Internet was still somewhat new and not many people were savvy. As such, there was a PC at the Royal Lounge in the 30th floor which was a lounge for the guests of the VIP floors. Sometimes during my shift I would go up for a quick break. The manager, Jaylane is a friend and she always welcomed me with a coffee and a chat. When I would then check the PC I learned to view the “history”. This was when I was shocked from what I found. Bestiality and underage porn sites — this were what guests, mainly Arabs, were checking when they use the PC. Dang. Out of sheer curiosity to know who was that sick, I would eventually check the log book for name/room number. Then get into the system and find out who it is. Most were married men with beards. Once a week or so I would delete all the history from that infested computer.
Check Funny Hotel-Related Stories for more action. 


Back to Bill Gates….



Then came the big day. Other than the food, everything was already prepared from before. The secret services guys came in earlier and we did another small tour — this time along my manager who was the Room Division Director. “Omar will be with you all day today. Consider him an enhanced elevator boy,” he joyfully said.

One of the reasons Gates was in Cairo, Egypt for that short trip was for the official inauguration of the e-government portal (www.egypt.gov.), which Microsoft was chosen to be in charge of its implementation. He had also met President Mubarak and apparently also saw firsthand the construction of a Nubian house in addition to visiting the Microsoft Office. 



Bill Gates in Microsoft Egypt - 2003

Speaking of which, while looking for suitable photos for this article I found the above one. What’s truly amusing is that the guy on the right in a grey suit and squatting on his knees pretending to pray is a dear, funny childhood friend of mine, Amr Fahmy, who is an ex-employee of Microsoft Egypt.

At some point around 1:00 pm we got a call that the convoy is entering Down Town and should be here in about 10 minutes. We informed the General Manager and headed to the main entrance to wait. I remember hearing the police siren from afar before the first police motorcycle arrived. And what a convoy that was. It truly was something on the scale of a president. Americans don’t joke when it comes to security, so you can imagine all the black cars with the bullet proof glass and tires and all the armed personal surrounding the billionaire.

Gates was greeted by the GM and in fact it was me who escorted him to the already-waiting elevator. He got in with a few other men and myself. I was the only hotel employee to ever come so close to him.



Up to the 36th floor and in the Royal Suite where Emad Adeeb, the Orbit media mogul, and the cameras and the media crew were all awaiting. For a while then I didn’t know what to do. The interview was to be followed by a meal in the suite. But since I was the one in charge of the whole thing, I decided to silent my phone, entered the suite, and stood there during the whole interview. It was also fun to miss a couple of hours from my shift while still ‘working’. 



After the exquisite lunch, I once again got on the elevator with the man and took him to the main entrance. Then I decided to shake hands with him. He seemed and acted down to Earth so why not. And he did shake my hand back. I thought of asking him for a billion dollars but then I realised it’s a little bit too soon.

The visit went seamless and that was my experience with Bill Gates — one of the richest men to have ever lived.  

Photo taken by ex-partner before heading to work in the early morning — A couple of years before that visit


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