Traveling through Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey during the period of 1803–1807, Ali Bey went to Mecca ostensibly to perform the hajj, giving out that he was a descendant of the Abbassid Caliphs of the West. In conversations with individuals that he met during his travels, he claimed that he was born in Aleppo; but he was later identified as Domingo Badia y Leblich, a Catalan spy for Joseph Bonaparte. There is much mystery about Ali Bey. Bankes, writing in 1830, roundly asserted that he was a Jew, and many later writers have thought that he was a genuine Muslim of Moroccan origin, but of Spanish education. Although, he alleged to be a Muslim in order to enter Mecca, when he died in Syria in 1818 he was denied a Muslim burial because a cross was found in his vest. This, as suggested by some scholars, is conclusive proof that Ali Bey’s claims of Islam were a pretense maintained in order to travel to Mecca and Medina.
In 1816, the account of his travels, Travels of Ali Bey : in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, between the years 1803 and 1807, was published.