Why Is Muhammad Ali Considered the Father of Modern Egypt?

muhammad-ali-considered-father-modern-egypt Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As of 2014, Muhammad Ali Pasha is widely considered the father of modern Egypt because under his reign Egypt saw a great increase in its global influence and modernization of its agriculture, medicine, military and cotton industry. Under Pasha and his successors, Egypt grew into one of the most-developed states outside of Europe, though this modernization came at a cost. Enormous government expenditures led to the eventual bankruptcy of Egypt.

Pasha confiscated lands from feudal farms and the Cairo religious institutions, then used them to plant cotton, ordering all of the peasants to work in cotton to help generate the funds for his economic changes. Though he monopolized all of the major industries in Egypt, Pasha greatly improved the country through the creation of jobs and cash flow, the addition of a navy to Egypt's armed forces, the digging of a safe, new canal from Alexandria to the Nile, and the reform of educational institutions. He also re-instituted the trade roads to carry goods from Europe to India across land through Egypt. Under his leadership, the port of Alexandria regained its importance as a trade center due to Pasha's favoritism toward merchants. To carry all of this out, Pasha drafted peasants to serve in the military, work in factories and provide labor for his industrial projects.