In Cairo, Egypt in the early 1800s households would allot a distinct set of apartments or rooms exclusively for the use of the females of the household, also known as the hareem. No males, other than the master of the family, children and certain close relatives, were allowed to enter. Persons who resided in the hareem included the master’s wives (though often a man with more than one wife would house them in separate residences if he could afford to do so), concubines, female slaves, free servants, and children.
Men without a wife sometimes kept a hareem that consisted of an Abyssinian slave-concubine and a female slave and/or free servant to wait upon her. By some this was considered a less expensive alternative to maintaining a wife.
– source: Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, by Edward W. Lane, first published in 1836