12 weeks, Wednesdays, 6:15 - 8:15 p.m.
After Napoleon’s brief invasion of Egypt (1798–1801), Egypt rose from its lethargy, energized by modernization plans orchestrated by Mohamed (Mehmet) Ali (1769–1849), an ethnic Albanian from Macedonia. He described himself as being “born the same year as Napoleon, in Alexander’s birthplace.” To accelerate this modernization, he and his descendants encouraged immigration to Egypt from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Greece, Italy, and the rest of Europe, thereby creating a new cosmopolitan society. An astute politician, he was able to wrest control of Egypt’s rule from the Ottomans, whom he helped militarily on occasion and whom he later invaded, occupying the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Southern Turkey). This expansion continued unabated until the British intervened, fearful of a rising Egypt replacing the declining Ottomans as the major power in the Eastern Mediterranean.
How did this visionary take control of Egypt to found a dynasty that ruled for 150 years? How did he transform Egypt into a modern nation? Was this transformation a lasting one? What remains today of Mohamed Ali’s dream?