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Demolition and Despair: Cairo Houseboat Owners Forced to Bid Farewell to Iconic Homes

July 3, 2022

Decked on the shimmery banks of the Nile are a line of wooden houseboats – two-storey structures that constitute a safe space for their inhabitants and visitors alike – that are tethered to shore by ropes. They are unable to move on their own, but they stand as architectural visions akin to a gouache painting. These houseboats are a comfortable space to unwind; a tranquil escape from the clamorous city of Cairo. Stretching along the banks of the Nile from Abbas Bridge down to Imbaba, and from the west side of the Rhoda and Zamalek islands, the houseboats that were once an eminent part of Egypt’s history, are threatened with demolition. As the sounds of hammering and splintering continue, the residents and admirers of the houseboats have called the attention of the media, seen in the urgency of international and national news coverage, campaigns, and online petitions. Despite their best efforts to raise noises to halt the peremptory decision of destruction, the residents at risk of being evicted from their homes have experienced electricity and water shutdowns, leaving them to their last resort of emptying the only homes they know….

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