Sabil-Kuttab Um ‘Abbas is situated in al-Saliba street, in Cairo’s Qal’a District. It was named after its patron, Mrs. Banba Kaden bint ‘Abdallah al-Bayda in 1284 AH/1867 AD as a waqf for her late son ‘Abbas Helmi I (1280–1296 AH/1863–1879 AD), the governor of Egypt and cousin of Khedive Isma’il Pasha.
The Sabil-Kuttab historically functioned as a public water fountain surmounted or annexed by a school, and Um ‘Abbas’ Sabil-Kuttab counts among the most exquisite of the structures on al-Saliba Street. Decorated in marble floral designs, the architecture was inspired by European Rococo designs. It is a testament to the sophisticated hydraulic system of nineteenth-century Cairo.
It was mainly the Holy Quran that was taught to children in the Kuttab. Graffiti on the walls in Arabic and Turkish dialects commemorate this classroom environment. One inscription in particular is signed off by the calligrapher ‘Abdallah al-Zuhdi al-Nabulsi.