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Houara (Berber: Ihewwaren, Arabic: هوارة‎), also spelled Hawwara, is a large Berber tribe spread widely in the Maghreb (Tamazgha) and has descendants in Upper Egypt.

Houara are amongst the most prominent tribes in Upper Egypt, with branches found mainly in Sohag, Qena, and Asyut. They are considered to be the aristocracy of Sohag to this day. Hawwara tribes were deemed to be the real rulers of the region, up until the campaigns of Ibrahim Pasha in 1813, which finally crushed their influence.[1]

During the Mamluk rule in Egypt, the Hawwara were the most dominant tribe in Upper Egypt under the leadership of Sheikh Hammam.[2] Sultan Barquq made relationships with the Hawwara in order to keep the Arab tribes from becoming powerful.[3] Towards the end of the Mamluk dynasty, the Hawwara and Arabs began cooperating to kill Mamluks. Due to their cooperation, the Mamluks labelled the Hawwara as being Arab. Although they are originally Berber, the term "Sheikh of the Arabs" is usually bestowed upon their leaders. According to many researchers, The Hawwara are Berber in genetics, they usually only married within their family or from other Hawwara factions across North Africa to form external alliances.[4] .In the 21st century, Hawwaras began marrying outside their tribe since the family lineage was becoming extinct, this led to the Hawwara becoming increasingly arabized.

Many smaller tribes, villages, and regions still bear this name in Berber countries today such as Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya.


  1. ^ Baer, Gabriel. "Studies in the Social History of Modern Egypt." (1969).
  2. ^ Petry, Carl F., ed. The Cambridge History of Egypt. Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  3. ^ Petry, Carl F. "A Geniza for Mamluk Studies? Charitable Trust (Waqf) Documents as a Source for Economic and Social History." Mamluk Studies Review 2 (1998): 51-60.
  4. ^ Abul-Magd, Zeinab. Imagined empires: A history of revolt in Egypt. Univ of California Press, 2013.