ARAB was built in 1879 by J & G Thompson & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3170grt, a length of 350ft, a beam of 40ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots.
She was delivered for the mail run in 1879 and in 1883 was paired with the Nubian on the experimental Liverpool - Newport News - Baltimore service.
In 1885 she was used as the base ship at Suakin as part of the expedition to relieve General Charles Gordon at Khartoum. Unfortunately, the force was delayed through dallying and arrived too late to prevent Gordon from being murdered by the forces of Abdullah al Mahdi in the April.
She was equipped with a triple expansion engine and high pressure boilers in 1889 but in 1891 was relegated to the Intermediate service where she inaugurated the Cape to Mauritius service.
Although transferred to the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co on 8th March 1900 she was surplus to requirements and put up for sale, sold to German owners and broken up.
A Voyage from England to Natal in the Union Steam Ship “Arab”
A series of etchings from The Graphic dated November 26 1881