Statue of former Prime Minister of Egypt Nubar Pasha Nubarian. Image Source: Mr. Arunansh B. Goswami. Image Credits: Mr. D. B. Goswami.

By ARUNANSH B. GOSWAMI

Recently the author of this article was in Egypt, being a analyst and author writing about Armenian geopolitics and history, exploring the history of Armenians in Egypt was indeed important for him, Egypt being another civilizational state like India and Armenia. Interestingly the author found like in India Armenians in Egypt have contributed significantly in multiple fields of human endeavors for the development of their adoptive country. If we go by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia then “The relationship between Armenians and Egyptians goes back to the Pharaonic times.” In this article author will focus on family of Nubar Pasha Nubarian.

Nubarians 

Mausoleum of Arakal Bey Nubarian former governor of Sudan. Image Source and Credits: Mr. Arunansh B. Goswami.

One of the most prominent Armenian-Egyptian family was that of Nubar Pasha, who started his career in Egypt as his uncle Boghos Bey Yusufian’s secretary, Yusufian was a close top ranking officer of Muhammad Ali the ethic Albanian born in Greece governor of Egypt. This author went all the way to Alexandria to visit the mausoleum of Nubar Pasha and other members of his family including, Boghos  Joussouff Bey and Arakal Bey Nubarian a former governor of Sudan, inside the compound of Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, it is located in the garden next to the church of St. Poghos-Petros.

Within this complex is located an Armenian school which is now closed due to lack of students and a memorial to those Armenians who were slaughtered by Ottoman Turks during Armenian genocide. The flag of Armenia can be seen in this complex and so does portraits of popular Armenian-Egyptians. Author would like to thank Father Krikor Mouradian and his son Arshag Mouradian for their amazing hospitality, respect for India, their willingness to explain the history of Armenians in Egypt to this author and his father and for even showing me the place in the Church where Arshag was baptised.

Royal Origins from Artsakh 

Nubarian family from Artsakh played an important role not just in modernisation of Egypt but also the strengthening of Armenian national identity in the age of nationalism. Chaventour district in Karabakh was ruled by great great grand father of Boghos Nubar. It is told that he was a great warrior who successfully protected his district against enemies until the assassination of Mekhitar Sparapet, the head of the Armenian army, in 1730. After Mekhitar’s death, Nubar was forced to abandon his homeland and settle in Smyrna (Modern day Izmir), in the Ottoman Empire.

Nubar Pasha Nubarian

Mausoleum of Nubar Pasha Nubarian. Image Source and Credits: Nr. Arunansh B. Goswami.

Did you know an Armenian was awarded the Nile Medal of Honor, Egypt’s highest award? His name was Nubar Pasha Nubarian who also became Prime Minister of Egypt. A statue of this Armenian-Egyptian statesman has been placed in-front of the Muhammad Ali Opera in Alexandria. British Controller-General of Egypt and the Suez Canal Zone Evelyn Baring, later Lord Cromer, wrote, “Nubar Pasha is the most interesting amongst modern Egyptian politicians, with intellect he is way up of his rivals.”

The contribution of Nubar to the construction of the Suez Canal cannot be gainsaid, connecting the Red and Mediterranean Seas. The ruler of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, was happy with Nubar Bey’s efforts, instructed him to take over the completion of work on the Suez Canal. He reached the top of his career in 1878 when appointed as prime minister of Egypt, the first time in the history of the country. He served as Prime Minister three times during his career.

It has been mentioned that the city of Heliopolis could not be constructed in the middle of desert if he would not have established Cairo’s Water Company, which introduced piped water. His contribution for the welfare of Egyptians was so much that Ismail, honoured him by naming a new canal in the province of Beheira, after him as Nubariyya, not just that as a reward for his encouragement in improving the various types of cotton, Egypt’s single most profitable and prized product at the time, a type of long-staple cotton was named Nubari after him.

Boghos Nubar

Inside the church of St. Poghos-Petros. Image Source and Credits: Mr. Arunansh B. Goswami.

Raymond Poincare, former French president, referred to Boghos Nubar as “one of those few people who combines a highest moral with a great intellect.” Boghos Nubar was great great grandson of Nubar from Artsakh, and on November 10, 1912, he was invited by the Catholicos of All Armenians to head the Armenian National Delegation to advocate the Armenian problem before European powers who were discussing the Balkan War in London. The Armenians worked on three levels: Boghos Nubar in Paris and London; Dr. Hagop Zavriev in Petrograd; and the Security Council of the Armenian Parliament in Constantinople.

Boghos Nubar’s most significant Armenian achievement is generally considered to be the founding of the Armenian General Benevolent Union in Cairo, Egypt, in 1906. As per Vahram Hovyan Expert, Centre for the Armenian Studies, Noravank Foundation “Boghos Nubar Pasha established in 1906 the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) in Cairo. This organization had made valuable contributions both for solving the national problems in the pre-statehood period (before the First Republic of Armenia was declared on May 28, 1918), and in strengthening the Armenian statehood after it was restored, as well as cooperated with the First, Second and Third Republics.”

Author of this article and his father standing with Father Krikor Mouradian in Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. Image Source: Mr. Arunansh B. Goswami. Image Credits: Arshag Mouradian.

Conclusion 

During the recent visit of Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan to Egypt, Prime Minister of Egypt Mostafa Madbuli thanked the Armenian side for naming one of Yerevan’s squares after Egypt and added that the Egyptian side will name one of the capital’s squares after Armenia. Mr. Pashinyan even met Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. Armenia Egypt relations are close and cordial.

It is advantageous for Armenia that it’s other good friend India also has very good diplomatic relations with Egypt and President Sisi was the Chief Guest on India’s 74th Republic Day. Contribution of Armenians to the development of Egypt has indeed been a lot. Civilisational states of India, Egypt and Armenia with thousands of years of history should work together to establish peace in South Caucasus by cooperating with each other, and work for greater economic development for the welfare of our people.

Author Arunansh B. Goswami is an Advocate, Historian and Analyst (Armenian Geopolitics)

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