From ancient times, Egyptians have developed songs to accompany them during their long labour hours. Some songs are used for entertainment and diversion from hardness and monotony of work, some are used for supporting stamina, and movement unison among groups doing the same task (like builders), and some are for luring customers to buy the products.

Fishermen, boaters, camel herders, cooks, and even beggars and fortune tellers all have songs they sign while during work.

Farmers also created their own songs. They even have songs for different operations; ones while sowing seeds with the hand mill, ones during preparing the soil, some for harvesting, some for winnowing, and others while raising water from the Nile. They even sing differently according to the harvested plant (gathering cotton, collecting dates, gathering flowers), or instrument used (Saqia/Waterwheel, or Tanbour/Water screw, Shadoof/ Counterpoise lift).

Street vendors sing for different fruits and vegetable, one type of seeds called Hab al-Aziz has its own parade during festivals.

Ladies also sing while doing their household chores like baking, grinding seeds, and cooking.

Songs can be accompanied by music, with the common musical instruments being: Nay (pipe), Rababa, Sagat, Mezmar (pipe), Tabla (drum), Duff (drum).

Examples of songs include:

“You, beautiful dates of oasis, you sway on the palms with breeze” Harvest’s song.

“A flower you are, you white cotton, the happiness of the poor’s hearts, you come on time with your abundance, rescuing those in need” Harvest’s song.

“Hela hela, pray upon the prophet, hela hela, please God increase the goodness”. Fishermen’ song.

“Hab al-Aziz, with only one piaster, lovely and delicious, with only one piaster”. Street vendors’ song.

The bearers of the work  songs are from different ages (young/old) both men and women.

Mohammad al-Gohary, Hana al-Gohary: Cultural Theory Encyclopedia, Concepts and Terminology and p1, National translation center, 2009
Mohammad al-Gohary: Arabian Folklore Encyclopedia, Folk literature, p 4, General organization for cultural palaces, 2012
Mohamma Mofleh al-Bakr, Work songs in Bedouin cultures, Folklore, 1993
Mustafa Ibrahim Taha, Work songs in Shaiqi poetry, Sudaneese studies magazine, July 1968