Cairo’s floating homes are disappearing to make room for a tourism project

Cairo's floating homes are disappearing to make room for a tourism project
This awama was moved July 4 in Embabeh, Cairo. © Nada Zien Elden

Egyptian authorities announced on June 26 their plan to clear all houseboats moored along the portion of the Nile that winds through Cairo’s Embabeh neighbourhood. In the weeks since, residents have been forced to leave their homes, many of which have since been demolished. Our Observers say they are devastated to witness the destruction of homes that are an important piece of Cairo’s cultural heritage. 

One after another, Cairo’s “awamas have emptied, with residents leaving and taking their belongings with them. On June 26, the Egyptian government began a campaign to clear the Nile of these houseboats by either destroying them or moving them farther down the river.

The authorities want to transform the banks of the Nile into an area for tourists that would include a promenade and lots of shops, cafés and restaurants. An initial part of this project was already completed on the eastern bank of the Nile near the Qasr El Nil bridge.

In the Elkit Kat and Agoza neighbourhoods, 25 of the 32 “awamas” moored on the banks of the Nile have already been completely or partially destroyed. Other houseboats have been brought to hangars belonging to the Egyptian ministry for the management of water and irrigation.  

Former residents, many of whom had owned their boats for decades, were powerless to stop the demolition. Many have taken to social media to share their stories and photos documenting life on their lost houseboats. 

This is an excerpt from an article originally published by The Observers.

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