Chase over the Nile: The Social Evolution of Riverine Landscape in Urban Egypt

Mohamed Gamel Abdelmonem

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    Throughout its history, Cairo evolved as a regional metropolis that sprawls along the banks of the Nile accumulating narratives of evolving social landscape. Overlooking the Nile reflected a privileged social position and place for the urban elite. In spatial terms, the urban bourgeoisie tend to develop living havens in enclaves that are distant from the populace’s everyday life. Ironically, exclusive settlements only attract urban growth further in their direction. This chapter offers an analytical reading of the socio-spatial structure of Cairo following the emergence and decline of a series bourgeoisie quarters along the shores of the Nile. It reports urban narratives based on archival records, documents and investigation of historical texts and travelers’ accounts. This essay argues that cities are essentially social constructs in which hierarchy and connectivity are fundamental aspects of its economic and spatial logic. Through social ambition and desire for upgrade, middle class infiltrate into bourgeoisie havens and sometimes encircle it, seeking better living condition inscribed by social mobility and connectivity to centres of wealth and power. Being both natural barrier and cohesive spine, the Nile helped Cairo to develop successive nucleuses of highly crafted urban experiences that have left their imprints on the contemporary urban scene.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUrban Planning in Africa
    EditorsCarlos Nunes Sliva
    PublisherAshgate Publishing Ltd
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Print)9781472444844
    Publication statusPublished - 07 Jul 2016


    • Architecture
    • Urban Development
    • social history
    • Urban History
    • Egypt

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Architecture
    • Urban Studies
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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