Egypt in the Reign of Muhammad Ali
This account of Egyptian society in the reign of Muhammad Ali traces the beginnings of the nation state in Egypt. It considers Muhammad Ali as part of a social group whose economic interests led them in the direction of trade with Europe as a means of raising money for further investments. They attempted to increase agricultural exports and to use the profits to create industry; then, following the logic of imperialists, their next step was to seek to conquer the surrounding areas to find markets for their industries and sources of raw materials. These policies brought them into conflict with their suzerain, the Ottoman sultan, and with England, since England needed markets in the Middle East and sought to destroy the new regime in Egypt as a means of exerting influence on the region. In the process of carrying out these economic changes, the country underwent a series of internal developments that were to revolutionize the structure and shape of Egyptian society. The rules of landownership were altered and large estates were formed, Egyptian fallahin were drafted into the army, and the administration was Egyptianized, establishing the groundwork for a nation state.