For the most part the dance was traditionally done by women for women; the separation of sexes and the veiling of women predates Islam and can be traced back to many ancient cultures.During the Ottoman reign over Egypt there was a surge in tourism and many soldiers.
Our modern version of Raqs Sharqi only goes back as far as the early 1900's when it was modified as a stage art to compete with western style stage performances and offer entertainment that would have more appeal to foreign occupiers and tourists.
However, the original dances in their pre modified version were likely a form of Raqs baladi or even Ghawazee.
The Awalim were highly trained in the art of poetry, music, and dance.
They were generally slaves who were trained in facilities throughout the Middle East.
There is no way to know for sure just how far back the roots of this dance style actually go. It is possible that this dance can be traced back to Mesopotamia where temple engravings depicting dancers have been found. It is believed by many that this dance started as an ancient ritual dance for fertility and childbirth. there were Greek writings that described Nile dancers as rapidly vibrating.