Sarah Mokhtar, an Egyptian journalist, is struggling to kick start her career but is running out of options and money.

"Decent jobs are hard to find in other cities, except in Cairo. That's where I found a job and a place to stay with four women who are just like me. We're all working women, making our own way in life. But later, when all my team was laid off, I lost my job. That's when it got hard," Mokhtar says.

But her online friendship with the woman known to her friends as the "Finance Minister of Facebook" presents Mokhtar with an opportunity to visit the ancient city of Luxor, in the heart of Upper Egypt.

So begins a journey up the majestic Nile that is set to alter Sarah's perceptions of working, living and saving.

Along her journey, Mokhtar meets Sayed Mohammad, a boatman yearning for the times when river cruisers would ferry numerous tourists down the Nile. Tourists still visit the area but not in the same numbers as before.

"My job depends a lot on tourists but there just aren't any. We've really been harmed by this," Mohammad says. "I'm no longer able to meet my basic living costs."

Mokhtar also meets a weaver, Zaynab Heider, operating in a field some members of her community see as a male domain.

"Not just anyone can do this job. It's seen as man's work. My eyes are fixed on the loom even when people visit the workshop. I feel flattered when they admire the rugs and ask who made them," Heider says.

Inspired by Heider's tenacity and infectious good humour, Mokhtar follows her to her weaving workshop where she explains her craft.

"Each rug tells my story and represents my feelings. If I'm happy and laughing with my friend while I'm weaving then my rug design has happy colours like reds, greens, and yellows," Heider explains.

Mokhtar meets another woman, who like Heider, entered a trade once expected to be male-dominated. Nosa Moawad, an automotive painter, was thriving in her work painting vehicles but now, due to a lack of demand, she struggles to raise enough money for her family.

"My earnings have gone down. I worked hard to be where I am now. I saved money and started this business, then saved again and bought a house. But now there isn't enough work to make money and save," Moawad says.

As Mokhtar travels along the Nile, she documents her encounters with a range of characters and hears their stories. And in doing so meets people who she would never have otherwise met.

Source: Al Jazeera