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Industrial development of Egypt in the first half of the 19th century: a look from Russia

zh. V. Petrunina


Work is presented by department of modern and contemporary history of the Moscow pedagogical State University.

In article issues of industrial development of Egypt in the period of Muhammad Ali's government are investigated. On materials of the central domestic newspapers and magazines of the first half XIXstoletiya published in Russia of diaries, letters, traveling notes of the Russian and foreign travelers, politicians and scientists the main directions and stages of industrialization of Egypt are considered. The main aspects of these events which found reflection in a Russian press are noted. Influence and value of the published materials on formation of opinions and mass ideas in Russia of Egypt is shown.

Zh. Petrunina


Questions of industrial development of Egypt in the time of the Egypt Pasha Mohammed Ali are investigated in the paper. The basic directions and stages of industrialization of Egypt are examined on the basis of the native newspapers and magazines of the first half of the 19th century, diaries, letters, traveling notes of Russian and foreign travelers, politicians and scientists published in Russia. The main aspects of these events were reflected in the Russian press. The author of the paper shows the influence and importance of the published material on forming of opinions and mass ideas about Egypt in Russia.

In the first half of the 19th century management of Egypt was in Muhammad Ali's hands. Having made rapid ascension to tops of the power, having strengthened the political situation, this Egyptian pasha carried out cardinal reorganization of all aspects of life of a pachalik, pursuing the global aim - to gain independence of the Turkish sultan and to create the new Arab-Muslim empire capable to take the worthy place among great powers of the world under the management.

In a complex of stages of implementation of the drawn-up plans the special place was allocated to industrialization of Egypt. The governor of a pachalik fairly considered that in order that the state prospered and had an opportunity to achieve political independence, it is necessary to develop own industry. Planning to enter Egypt into a cohort of the leading states of the world, Muhammad Ali, making use of experience of the European experts, started implementation of the plan for reforming of the industrial sector. As with irony noted the Russian "Magazine of manufactories and trade", in Egypt, the country "agricultural by the nature", "from that minute as Pasha wanted to make of it the country manufactory", nothing "could oppose to his volition" [4, page 157].

At the beginning of the 19th century Egypt was covered with network of the craft workshops and shops which had the specialization. However they did not satisfy to requirements of the developing pachalik. Purchase of foreign goods was necessary, but is extremely unprofitable. It, first, put a pachalik into dependence on Europeans, and secondly, demanded considerable material inputs.

With the purpose to resist to corruption and plunders, in 1816 Muhammad Ali entered the state monopoly for the majority of species of crops and extended it to buying up and sale of craft products. The introduced system of monopolies during 18161820 captured practically all branches of economy. The bureaucracy headed by the pasha had the exclusive right to buying up and sale of products of the industry, various

grades of the wood and fuel, iron, tin, lead. Reported of the Moscow Sheets azet that the pasha "only one manufactures the wholesale bargaining in all Egypt" [7]. According to a remark of the Russian doctor A.A. Rafalovich traveling around Egypt at the end of the 1840th, Muhammad Ali concentrated "in the hands all branches of the industry and performance of edge, without neglecting also the most petty" [14, page 24]. Obtaining the exclusive rights to trade in craft goods and heavy taxation of handicraftsmen gradually led to decline of handicraft trade.

Instead in various regions of a pachalik the new manufactories and factories equipped with the European machines began to appear. Only from France for the 20-30th of the 19th century Egypt took out cars for the sums exceeding 100 thousand francs. Despite the long distances separating the enterprises from each other all of them were constructed on a uniform sample and settled down in convenient locations. According to the English captain Mekkenzi whose impressions were placed in one of the Russian editions, organizing manufactories, Muhammad Ali hoped that they "will promote to education of its people" [10, page 36]. The first state factories were constructed in 1818. The first textile enterprise began work in Horonfishe. The enterprise had to produce silk, a velvet and silk muslin. However conditions for further development of the enterprise did not develop.

The Russian readers long time used single data on the Egyptian industrial complex, scooping them from short newspaper or journal reports. Rather full information on this question was provided in "The magazine of manufactories and trade" in 1839. A note included the data which did not receive earlier wide use in domestic periodicals and gave the chance to add or correct already had ideas of development of the enterprises in Egypt.

In a consensus, most successfully in a pachalik the cotton industry began to develop. English

the captain Mekkenzi wrote that manufactories on production of cotton fabrics were got in all big cities of the Top and Lower Egypt [10, page 36]. The first three cotton-mills constructed in 1818-1820 were intended for production of fine woolen fabrics. But after in 1821 dlinnovoloknisty cotton was found and put in production, this type of raw materials became the basic for the Egyptian textile industry. The technology of processing of dlinnovoloknisty cotton in Egypt was entered by the French expert Zhyumel who since 1819 began to part "the Brazilian bush" in Egypt. As the Sanktpeterburg-skiye Vedomosti newspaper wrote, "this enterprise made the wished success. Pasha immediately ordered to part this plant and called it a zhyumele-vy tree" [15]. According to "The magazine of manufactories and trade", "Zhyumel is one of important springs of success of many enterprises Megemeta Ali" [4, page 166]. The main manufactory on processing of dlinnovoloknisty cotton called by La Malta was in Bulaka, the trade and industrial suburb of Cairo which the marshal Marmon (the duke Ragusa) who at the time was participating in Bonaparte's campaign and who visited Egypt about 30 years later called "the capital of the industry" [5, page 243]. At the enterprise the cars which are taken out from France by means of which annually gained "boards, handwork and a part mechanically" more than one million pieces of calico were used. At a manufactory some more additional productions (joiner's, foundry, carved and turning workshops) functioned, training of masters who after knowledge acquisition had to be able "to operate, pochinivat and build in Egypt as are able, any cars was provided" [4, page 159].

In 1826 in one of notes the Russian magazine "Severny Arkhiv" reported about 10 centers of production of cotton products in Egypt. In Bulaka three hlopkopryadilny factories worked, on 1 factory - in Cairo, an aliufa, Rosetta, Mekhalet-el-Kebire, Fuye, Manzur and Siuta [11, page 308]. Production cotton

paper fabrics it was very demanded in a pachalik and very actively developed. In 1839 the Russian "Magazine of manufactories and trade" noted work already 30 of "factories of the paper fabrics" producing on average 1 million 200 thousand pieces a year by this time [4, page 158].

Not the smaller value in Egypt was allocated for production of linen fabrics. Annually in Egypt collected about 180 thousand centners of a flax [13, page 118]. Between Bulak and Shubra there was an extensive enterprise where fabrics were exposed to "various processes of whitening". According to the eyewitness and the participant of events, the French doctor Klot-bey whose work was published in Russia in 1843, in the same institution "printed" up to 800 pieces of calico a month [3, page 224]. The domestic press made additions to these data, having noted that "linen factories manufacture 1,000,000 pieces of a wide canvas and 30,000 narrow" in a year [4, page 158]. Manufacture of the calico differing "in a yarn subtlety, beauty of drawings and nelinyuchestyyu" reached quality. Egipetsky calico was not of a lower quality than English and German which import in a pachalik was reduced. Factories on production of linen fabrics were located in the Lower Egypt and provided needs of inhabitants of a pachalik. A considerable part of linen matters was taken out to Trieste and Livorno [3, page 224]. However to market in foreign market it is more than factory products, Muhammad Ali forbade flax export, having demanded that all flax was processed within the country.

In Darb-al-Gemamize, Bulake, Rosetta, Mansour and Cairo silk factories were open [11, page 309]. For work at factories from Constantinople wrote out the Armenian weavers. These masters created fabrics which on quality could be compared to the Indian. The Egyptian fabrics were beautiful, bright colors, but, unlike the Indian, are fragile. Characterizing development of the silk industry, "The magazine of manufactories and trade" noted that "silk business is, maybe, one of the most favorable speculation which is thought up to Pashey in enterprise

the not refusing from one of foreign novelties" [4, page 160-161].

At the bulaksky cloth factory which began work in 1818 along with the Egyptian the Spanish, Tunisian and Russian wool by means of which the Egyptian wool, dry and rigid, not good for manufacture of thin cloth, was done convenient for production was used. "The magazine of manufactories and trade" connected the beginning of active work of factory with arrival of masters from Languedoc. This factory, despite "bad quality" of cloth, provided requirements of army for regimentals [4, page 159]. The cloth factory was located also in Damangur. The clothes from rough wool for sailors were manufactured in the Top Egypt. In Cairo the rope factory which products were used in the fleet worked.

In Fua the factory of fezs or Tunisian caps supplying with them army and the population was constructed. In day the factory made up to 720 fezs. For production of fezs masters from Tunisia were brought. The Egyptian fezs differing from Tunisian only in color were weaved from the Spanish wool.

Due to constantly conducted wars there was a need for development of metallurgical industry. "The northern Archive" reported about work of copper foundries in Bulaka and Cairo. For ensuring work of foundries copper was brought from Europe, already on the place pouring out "from this various objects consumed for factories" [11, page 308-309].

Along with put in 1829. The Alexandria arsenal in which the Russian traveler A.N. Muravyev noted the remarkable device and quality of "the guns which are incessantly improved and poured out in four plavitelny furnaces" [8, page 171], foundry shops, metalwork workshops, smithies, the enterprises for production of weapon worked in many cities. In 1820 in Bulaka British Galovey, the chief engineer at Muhammad Ali, constructed the biggest foundry capable to daily melt about 50 quintals (quintal - the weight equal of 46 kg) gland, and monthly - on 3 or 4 guns from four to eight-pound caliber [2, by page 152; 3, page 228].

As the English captain Mekkenzi wrote, all things at foundry were created on the English or French sample, at the same time the Egyptian pasha gave preference to the last [10, page 36].

In Rod-al-Marsude, Bulake and Cairo small-arms factories were constructed. According to "The military magazine", worked at these enterprises on average in 900 people giving about 650 guns a month. At the same time the small-arms factory in Rod-al-Marsude constructed in 1831 by the genoese of Marengo better known in Egypt under the Arab name of Ali Efendi could provide jobs on 1,200 people who were monthly capable to make on 900 guns [2, page 152-153]. However the patriot of England captain Mekkenzi noted that ready Egyptian guns, guns, bayonets and sabers "concede English much" [10, page 37].

In Rosetta the plant of "iron products" which was turning out products, necessary for the fleet, worked. In Mekias - the powder mill satisfying all requirements of the Egyptian army for gunpowder, and for 6 large centers (Cairo, Bedrikhrin, Akhmuneyn, Fayum, Ganas, Terranekh) - the selitrenny plants. Reduction of amount of dirt and a lot of garbage on streets of the Egyptian cities as sewage and waste of activity of the person "represent plentiful food" for the enterprises for production of saltpeter became one of positive results of development of a selitryany industry, according to "The magazine of manufactories and trade". According to the Russian edition, in Egypt since 1834 the chemist from Rima Gaferi began to develop this industry while Klot-bey connected creation of the selitryany plants with a name of Frenchman Gena [4, page 168; 3, page 227].

Along with the enterprises focused on the military sphere in Egypt also other types of production which the Russian press called "minor" became widespread [4, page 167].


In 1818 in Reyremuna under control of Maltese Antonini there began work the sugar plant constructed on a sample of those plants which existed on the Antilles ost-

rova. Subsequently two more plants in Sakiyat-Moussa and in Ore were constructed. The plants were placed in those places where after floods water long kept and the sugar cane grew, "from juice of which make great fine-grained sugar, whiteness and purity not inferior to the best English lump sugar" [10, page 36]. The level of production was for those times high: Reyremuna developed 12,995 quintals, in Sakiyat-Moussa - 5,200 quintals, in Ore - 3,200 [3, page 226]. "The northern bee" wrote that work of the sugar plants allowed Muhammad Ali to receive the refined sugar cheaper than sugar from a sugar cane and the European beet sugar, "to manufacture" sugar by means of the steam-engine, without buying raw sugar from the Egyptian fellakh [17]. However the strict ban of Muhammad Ali "to use for a refining blood or in general substances animal as dirty and rejected by the Quran" [4, page 167], became the reason of gradual reduction in production of sugar at the enterprises. Besides sugar at the specified plants a significant amount of rum was made [3, page 226].

Under the leadership of Indians in a pachalik 10 factories for preparation of dye from a plant - indigo worked. Favorable climatic conditions of a pachalik allowed to grow up this plant, "leaves of which are fine and magnificently well-fed tinctorial substance", i.e. a product, suitable for production, of the increased quality. From 125,000 indigo kilograms, got annually, the sixth part was used in Egypt [4, page 165].

In Alexandria and Karium two glass plants worked. The special quality of products of the Alexandria glass plant was noted by Klot-bey according to whom, goods of this enterprise were not of a lower quality European [3, page 243]. In 1834 in Bulaka the printing house and paper-mill were founded.

In spite of the fact that the captain Mekkenzi to the president of the London Asian society Alexander Johnson wrote in the letter that "all factories are dependent on the pasha",

the Russian doctor A.A. Rafalovich pointed to existence in Egypt and private enterprises [10, page 36; 14, page 74, 115, 208-209, 118].

The Russian eyewitnesses paid special attention to ways of involvement of workers to the Egyptian factories. A.A. Rafalovich wrote about set of workers on new factory at which the police in the cities "take without discrimination and distinctions of all young people and boys who are coming across to it on the street and locks them in prison or the mosque". The families which had means redeemed sons from quarter heads, and "from others the administration finally holds the number of persons, necessary for factory, tattoos them the sign which is not output in all life any more", and sends for work. Getting on the enterprises as a result of recruitments, workers were organized in platoons, companies and battalions. They submitted to the commander, and after work were obliged to pass a military mushtra. The salary of workers remained extremely low and was at the different enterprises from 30 fadd up to 3 piastres a day (30 fadd - 3 piastres, made from 4.5 to 18 kopeks silver at the rate of that time) [14, page 279]. At some enterprises (for example, at the risoochistitelny plants) workers received the salary in kind.

At all enterprises and construction works female and child labor was used. A.A. Rafalovich described how on construction "children of both sexes, from eight to ten-year age, brought on the head in baskets the bricks and the wet earth, necessary for constructions... Each group of children was followed by the supervisor with a long lash" [14, page 22-23].

Because of insufficient readiness of the population to mastering the difficult mechanisms demanding special knowledge, limitations of resursovy base and financing of the industry arose difficulties of reforming of this direction of economy.

In the Russian public opinion critical remarks to the industrial reforms undertaken in a pachalik took place. The thesis about the wrong idea of Muhammad Ali with -

became one of the most often repeating

to hand over own industrial sector in Egypt. In the Russian periodical press and in works of eyewitnesses the reasons for which as the Russian orientalist and the writer A.S. Norov specified, "should not have founded income on the manufactory industry" were specified [9, page 142]. First of all it is an improper environment of Egypt for development of many industries. High temperature of air, dryness, dust of fine sand, "from which it is impossible to save anything" [12, page 164], interfered with use of cars in Egypt. The machines brought from England and France were deformed under the influence of a heat, and sand, getting to mechanical devices, led them to breakages. The lack of water "for the address of a wheel", coal and firewood "for actuating of the steam vessel" was added to it [12, page 164]. Estimating in Egypt an environment for industry formation, "The magazine of manufactories and trade" wrote: "The earth plainly, is not present water falling, the heat affects the strongest and dense tree, fine dust gets into cars and spoils them" [4, page 157].

The lack of enough free working hands became other important reason of the arising difficulties when carrying out industrial reform. A considerable part of the population was engaged in agriculture, attracted in army and the fleet. Development of the industry went to damage to agriculture. According to A.S. Norov's remark, the Egyptian earth "makes. plentiful riches" [9, page 42]. However Muhammad Ali fully could not use this abundance. He assessed agriculture with huge taxes, thereby, as the Russian writer noted, the orientalist O.I. Senkovsky, recklessly destroyed "in a root" "the main basis of richness of Egypt" [18, page 212].

Unresolved was a question of management of the industrial enterprises. Most of managing directors of factories which is personally not interested in production development, having "bent to extortion" [4, page 163], found any ways to own enrichment at the expense of Muhammad Ali. On industrial facilities in damage

to production they changed good stuff for materials of the worst quality.

Besides, in Egypt there were not enough own qualified specialists. At any breakage and technical problems the Egyptian workers independently could not correct any "damage" practically. They lacked modern technical training which would meet modern requirements. In case at the enterprises there was a breakage of cars, the government was forced to make the decision on a stop of "the course of factories" or "incessantly to write out new cars which quite often are lost from Europe not byv are made use at all, for the lack of the master who was able to bring together them, to put and let" [4, page 162]. Sets on the enterprises were carried out by hundreds, and on that "a little to explain their business", a lot of time left [4, page 163].

Income from work of the industrial enterprises had no relation to improvement of welfare of the population. A.A. Rafalovich drew an unfavourable conclusion: "... what serves in other countries to multiplication of welfare and wealth of the population - presence of big factories here... increases poverty and ruin" [14, page 40].

The general opinion dominating in the Russian society on this matter was expressed by "The magazine of manufactories and trade". Using witty remarks of the French travelers Kadalven and Bryovri in the publication, the edition noted that the Egyptian factories "an essence theaters for the pasha; he visits them sometimes to have a rest and amuse. Only he will be, all wheels spin, all machines operate, noise is made, and it amuses it!" [4, page 163-164].

At the same time in the Russian publications could not but note that transformations in the industrial sphere were an incitement to economic recovery of a pachalik. In 1S26 of g. "the bulletin of Europe" noted rapid industrial development of Egypt. "Within five years in the neighborhood of Cairo many factories of paper products and other, glass plants, plantations for indigo appeared and

other", - reported the magazine [6, page 56]. Domestic periodicals and eyewitnesses gave positive reviews about the industrial direction of reforming of a pachalik. The English captain Mekkenzi wrote what, despite the existing difficulties, "the pasha well made", having created in Egypt factories [10, page 35] which, according to Frenchman Marmon, are the monument erected to glory of the industry [5, page 244]. The Teleskop magazine, agreeing with judgment of "Sanktpeterburgsky sheets", called Muhammad Ali "the monarch of the industry" [1, page 308; 16].

Thus, the reforms undertaken in Egypt drew attention not only eyewitnesses, but also received extended coverage in the Russian periodicals of the first half of the XIX century. In domestic publications comprehensive estimates of the industrial transformations undertaken by Muhammad Ali were offered, statistical data are submitted. It allowed to allocate positive and negative sides of the undertaken reforms, to create ideas of changes in Egypt adequate to reality at Russians.


1. Marriage in Constantinople//the Telescope. 1834. Part 24. No. 49. Page 305-316.
2. Military forces of present Egypt//Military magazine. 1840. No. 4. Page 145-159.
3. Klot-bey. Egypt in a former and present state. Part II. Type. Headquarters Otd. corps of internal guards. SPb., 1843. 478 pages
4. Manufactories and industrial institutions in Egypt//the Magazine of manufactories and trade. 1839. No. 4. Page 157-173.
5. (Marmon). A travel of the marshal Marmon, duke Ragusa, to Hungary, Transylvania, the Southern Russia, across the Crimea and coast of the Sea of Azov, to Constantinople, some parts of Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt / lane with fr. Part 3. Prod. Xenophon Polev, M., 1840. 312 pages
6. Megemet-Ali, Pasha Egipetsky//Bulletin of Europe. 1826. May. No. 9. Page 54-57.
7. Moscow sheets. 1826. No. 12. February 10.
8. A.N. Muravyev. A travel to the holy sites in 1830 of Part 1. Type. consisting at the III Office of Own Office of its imperial majesty. SPb., 1832.
9. (A.S. Norov.). A travel across Egypt and Nubia in 1834-1835 of Abraham Norov. Part I. SPb., 1840.
10. A present condition of Arabia and Egypt (the letter of the English captain Mekkenzi to a sir to Alexander Johnson, the president of the London Asian society). Hmyrovsky collection. Africa. T. 1. Cutting 41. 1832. March. Page 24-39.
11. A review of the main industrial institutions based in Egypt on command of the Pasha Mahomed-Ali//Northern archive. 1826. No. 24. Page 308-309.
12. About a present condition of Egypt//Northern archive. 1825. Part 15. Page 131-174.
13. About cultivation in Egypt of a linen, hemp, cotton paper and silk, and about preparation of cloths//the Magazine of manufactories and trade. 1828. No. 2. Page 115-123.
14. A.A. Rafalovich Puteshestviye across the Lower Egypt and internal areas of the Delta. Printing house Ya. Tray. SPb., 1850. 443 pages
15. Sanktpeterburgsky sheets. 1824. No. 7. January 22.
16. Sanktpeterburgsky sheets. 1840. No. 186. August 18.
17. Northern bee. 1839. No. 255. November 20.
18. O.I. Senkovsky. Collected works of Senkovsky (Baron Brambelius). T. I. Printing house of the Academician. Sciences. SPb., 1858-1859. 517 pages
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