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Can Cairo's nightclubs bring the good times back to Egypt's capital?

By Ian Lee, CNN
updated 6:55 AM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cairo's nightlife is on the rebound after a tumultuous three years
  • Revolution in Egypt had left many investors in the industry nervous
  • Confidence is now returning with at least five new spots opening in Cairo recently

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Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- It's the weekend in Cairo and the city's upper crust is letting loose at The Garden, one of the latest night-time spots to open in the Egyptian capital.

The city's hip young things strut their stuff on the dance floor while cocktail waiters confidently juggle bottles behind the bar.

But behind the whirls, twirls and clinking of glasses is some serious investment.

Nearly half a million dollars has poured into this stylish venture since it began.

"We have a lot of support from sponsors, from different international and multinational companies that see it as an opportunity to offer their brands and their experiences as well and it makes it way more profitable," said owner of The Garden, Ismael Kassem.

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"There hasn't been a better time to open and attract people to positive experiences than the time we are in now."

The Garden is booked out every night and Kassem and his partners are bullish about the future.

"It's a very profitable and positive business, if you play your cards right and get the right flow of costumers," he said.

"It wouldn't take a year, year and a half to get a return on your investment."

Such success is attracting attention of others in the entertainment and nightlife industry.

At least five new drinking establishments have recently opened their doors in the city -- a sign the industry maybe slowly shaking off three years of despair.

The downturn started with the 2011 revolution that ousted then President Hosni Mubarak.

The election of an Islamist President, Mohamed Morsi, in 2012 had the industry fearful for its survival. Morsi would last barely a year in office, however, as a military coup ousted him in 2013.

Through that entire time, a shattered economy was kept down by violence and uncertainty.

But not everywhere was suffering.

Alchemy, a chic establishment known for drinks with a dash of chemistry, opened at the height of the turmoil in 2012.

According to Alchemy owner and industry veteran, Alex Rizk, the conditions always existed for smartly run bars and restaurants to prosper.

"A lot of investors are looking at what is running and surviving the revolution, and economic prices and that is mainly food outlets, coffee shops and I would say eventually nightlife," Rizk said.

It boils down to one simple thing, Rizk believes. "People do want to party, do want to forget their daily life a bit," he said.

Building on their initial success, Rizk and his partners plan to open a new club soon.

Kassem is also eying three new venues over the next three years, equaling millions of dollars in investment.

But this is Egypt, where political and economic chaos persist and neither Kassem nor Rizk take that for granted.

"Of course we are bullish but we aren't foolish," Kassem said. "If we find it unprofitable, we won't go into it."

It's a delicate balancing act like that performed by the skilled cocktail waiters at The Garden.

Both Kassem and Rizk hope it will pay out in dividends.

See also: Can Hard Rock Cafe get its groove back?

See also: Gulf looks to rival Paris as fashion capital

See also: Meet the Middle East's king of hotels

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