Al-Ahram Weekly Online   17 - 23 March 2005
Issue No. 734
Special
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Two centuries of modernity

Many national and international institutions will be commemorating the bicentenary of Mohammed Ali Pasha's coming to power this year, and we will be marking the occasion throughout the year by creating a space for discussion of documents from the period and offering a platform for the many scholarly debates and controversies surrounding the making of modern Egypt.

This year marks the bicentenary of the accession of Mohamed Ali Pasha to power in Egypt. To mark this momentous occasion, Al-Ahram Weekly will be publishing an occasional series dealing in-depth with various facets of the reign of Mohamed Ali and of his dynasty, which effectively launched Egypt into the modern age.

The first installment of the series, in this issue, focuses on King Farouk I, the last reigning ruler of the dynasty, whose death fell on this day 40 years ago.

King FaroukThe king is dead
Was King Farouk's sudden death in Italy 40 years ago a secret service plot? Hala Sakr seeks out the views of leading Egyptian historians
Thrice-married man?
Historical anecdote or bon viveur: What was ex-King Farouk's life in exile really like? Samia Nkrumah, in Rome, talks to the woman claiming to be the last Egyptian king's third and final wife

The Mohamed Ali Dynasty
1805 - 1953

With the declaration of the republic in Egypt in 1953, a chapter in the country's history that had begun in 1805 with the arrival of Mohamed Ali Pasha in power came to an end. The century and half that spanned the rule of the Mohamed Ali dynasty started with the Pasha's dreams of ruling over a major regional power that would be the inheritor of the ailing Ottoman empire, setting out to modernise the country and placing a strong emphasis on the development of military prowess, and ended with the arrival of the Free Officers in power and the ascendancy of Gamal Abdel-Nasser, who nurtured similar dreams. In both cases these dreams were thwarted at the hands of the world powers of the day.

Many national and international institutions will be commemorating the bicentenary of Mohammed Ali Pasha's coming to power this year, and we will be marking the occasion throughout the year by creating a space for discussion of documents from the period and offering a platform for the many scholarly debates and controversies surrounding the making of modern Egypt.

In choosing to begin the series with a consideration of the final years of the last reigning member of the dynasty, King Farouk I, we hope to shed light on the early years of the republic in Egypt and the complex relationship between Egypt's new rulers and its deposed king.

However, this valedictory note is intended as just the beginning of a series of articles and features by specialists dealing with different aspects, moments and episodes in the vital chapter of Egyptian history that took place between 1805 and 1953, when the country was ruled by successive members of the Mohamed Ali dynasty. It is our hope that this series will help to bring the considerable achievements of this period into focus, as well as seeking answers to the question of what went wrong.

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