The capital of the Ivory Coast is witnessing a flurry of activity linked to Thursday’s African-European summit. Abidjan has no shortage of hotels to accommodate the guests, but the Grand Hotel sets itself apart from them despite the signs of old age that it bears, said a former Arab ambassador.
Lebanese expatriate and hotel owner Sami Mohammed Hassan has dubbed the hotel as the “Arab House”.
“The last time the Arab elite were here was for a ceremony honoring Palestinian Ambassador Atef Audeh at the end of his term,” he recalled.
“I do not want this to be just a hotel, but I want it to be the house of Arabs in Ivory Coast,” he added.
General Charles De Gaulle was one of its famous guests.
He stayed there during his first trip to the Ivory Coast in 1956.
The hotel had only just been constructed and de Gaulle was visiting Abidjan to lay the foundation stone of a bridge that still bears his name to this very day.
The bridge crosses the Ebrie Lagoon, which the Grand Hotel overlooks.
The hotel also witnessed the marriage celebrations of late Ivory Coast President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who is affectionately known as Papa Houphouët.
Born in the Ivory Coast in 1946, Hassan inherited the Grand Hotel. Originally in poor condition, he worked on developing into a hotel that can accommodate guests from across the globe.