establishing a factory at Qalubeyah,
plus light industries for glass,
leather and cigarettes.
Ismail also took steps to improve
irrigation by constructing 112
new canals and improved the
infrastructure for the country’s
industry by creating 1,200 miles of
new railway tracks, extending the
network from Egypt’s first railway
which had linked Alexandria and
Suez. These initiatives doubled the
government revenues between
1863 and the mid-1870s.
The first document in Egyptian
history which mentions the
post dates back 2,000 years …
but Khedive Ismail brought the
country’s postal system into the
modern world in 1864 when he
bought Posta Europea for the
Post stamp from the days of King
Fouad I following the postal system
brought by Khedive Ismail
Egyptian Museum originally planned by the Khedive
government from two Italian
businessmen who had been
operating in Egypt.
The postal system became
rationalized under the Finance
Ministry which from 1867
monopolized collecting and
delivering mail and selling the
He was also determined that they
should look smart. Ismail issued a
decree providing two uniforms for
each Post Office employee – one
for his work duties and the other
for ceremonies and festivals.
In 1863 Khedive Ismail approved
the construction of a museum to
preserve Egypt’s antiquities, which
at that time were mainly stored
in a large house on Boulac (now
Gezira) but his plans were stalled
by financial constraints.
He also approved the construction
of a Museum of Islamic Art in
the courtyard of the Mosque
of Baibars, but this was not
implemented until 1880 one year
after he was succeeded by his son
Khedive Tawfiq.
To develop trained and professional
calibers for government service,
Ismail opened new civil schools in
Cairo, established national primary
schools in the provinces, founded
a teachers’ training college and
sent a larger number of young
men to study in Europe than any of
his predecessors. He established
the first Faculty of Law at Cairo
University in 1868 under professor
Vidal Pasha.
The story of Khedive Ismail is truly
extraordinary - rarely in history
can one man have had such an
enormous impact on the structure
and heritage of a country. Egypt’s
ancient history is inextricably linked
to the story of the pharaohs, but
there is no doubt that the modern
history of Egypt owes so much to
the vision of Khedive Ismail.
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