The island of Gezira dominates the waterfront from Garden City to Bulaq, nearly 4km long and connected to either bank of the Nile by three sets of bridges. The southern half is Gezira proper (literally “island”), and includes the Gezira Sporting Club, laid out by the British Army on land given by Khedive Tewfiq and occupying almost a third of the island. The northern half, Zamalek, is full of apartments, villas, offices and embassies, with a Westernized ambience and nightlife. Both seem so integral to Cairo that it’s hard to envisage their absence, yet the island itself only coalesced out of mudbanks in the river in the early 1800s, and remained unstable until the first Aswan Dam regulated the Nile’s flood in the 1900s. For more on the history and architecture of Gezira and Zamalek, check out Samir Raafat’s website at w egy.com/zamalek.

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