Houseboats on the Nile were the rage for decades, and during my years in Egypt houseboats were still quite popular, though I think this is no longer so. In any case, the dahabiyeh – houseboat – has been an endearing feature of life on the Nile. Here are a few words about them from an Oriental Institute (Chicago) book:
The dahabiyeh, a house barge, was recommended by Baedeker’s Egypt guide as late as 1929 as the perfect accommodation for “travellers to whom independence of action and economy of time are more important than economy of money.” The vessels rode low in the water, with passenger rooms, a dining salon, a library, and even a piano, located aft.
The raised deck was reserved for the use of the passengers, and the lower deck was frequented by the crew of the craft. Dahabiyehs were slow-traveling vessels, and men and animals had often to tow them against the current of the Nile.
As temperatures rose in the spring, the demand for the boats decreased, and most of the crews returned to summer farming until autumn again brought the return of tourists.
From: Oriental Institute-Lost Egypt: The Epigraphic survey. 1992, OI-Chicago
In the 19th Century some people lived and travelled on a dahabiyeh, as did Lady Duff-Gorden for a number of years, until her demise of TB. See this blog: Fattah, a Favorite Egyptian Dish: Recipe of 27-August-1866, Bulaq-Cairo.
- Libya – Prehistoric Links with the Nile Valley (dianabuja.wordpress.com)
- Blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah arrested by Egyptian military rulers (100gf.wordpress.com)