Ahmed Hassanein

First written by Mabrouk and 0 others, on Sat, 2008/08/09 - 12:47am, and has been viewed by 6087 unique users


Ahmed Pasha Hassanein (1889-1946) (Arabic: أحمد باشا حسنين) or Aḥmad Moḥammad Makhlūf Ḥasanēn al-Būlākī (Arabic: أحمد محمد مخلوف حسنين البولاقى). One of the most influential courtiers in Egypt between the 2 World Wars ending up in the highly prestigious post of Chief of the Royal Diwan. Ahmed was a renowned world's Geographic Explorer of the 1920s whose sensational discoveries have awarded him the Gold (Founder) Medal of Royal Geographical Society; the most prestigious British award for European explorers.

He has excelled in fencing and have represented Oxford
university in competitions. He also represented Egypt in Olympics of
Brussels 1920 and Paris 1924.


His father was a Sheikh (Professor) at AlAzhar. His
grandfather is Ahmed Pasha Mazhar Hassanein the last Admiral of
the Egyptian fleet before dismantled by British upon occupying
Egypt in the 19th century less than a decade before Ahmed was

Ahmed was born on 31st of October 1889 (Scorpio in Horoscopes) and brought up in Bulaq--the royal and industrial Nile port of Cairo that befits the family of an Admiral.


He got his education first in Cairo and then in Oxford University and graduated 1914 at the outbreak of WWI.


On 1926, Ahmed married Lutfia Hanem who was born 1905 (age 21 at marriage and 16 years his junior) but then divorced later. Her mother is Princess Shivakiar (Shewikar) Hanem Effendi (divorcee of King Fuad) and her father is Sa7eb al Sa3ada Saifullah Yusri Pasha, first ever Egyptian Ambassador to Washington DC.


He started his career as the Arab Secretary to the British Commanding Officer in Cairo (General Maxwell) 1914, during the Great War 1914-1918 (received MBE, 1915 star, British War and Victory medals, received GO of the Orders of the Nile of Egypt, SS Maurice and Lazarus of Italy, Pius of the Vatican, etc.).

He was adviser to King Fuad 1925-1936, tutor (رائد) with Crown Prince Farouk in London at the time (residing in the same building of Egyptian Embassy today in Mayfair, London), Chamberlain to King Farouk. Even preceding to 1940 but specially after being assigned the post of Chief of the Diwan to the Royal Palace on 1940, he was the most influential man in Egyptian Politics. At the famous incident of February 4th, he was the only man next to the King during his confrontation with Sir Miles Lampson (Lord Killearn afterwards) the British High Commissioner to Egypt.


King Fuad, father of Farouk, chose Ahmed to tutor the Crown Prince during the Prince's studies as a teenager in London. While Fuad spoke Turkish as his mother-tongue and was not therefore able to eloquently address his own nation, Farouk seems to have grown-up under the supervision of Ahmed Pasha Hassanein — a man of the world with patriotic sentiments — to be a truly beloved hero of his people who could talk their tongue and pay allegiance to their nation.

Discovery and Mapping of Mt Uweinat

During an expedition through the Libyan Desert in 1923, Ahmed Hassanein (then only Effendi in title) crossed one of the most formidable regions defended by the fierce and puritanical Senussis.

Hassanein's first journey was to the Kufra, the Senussi's oasis capital, but it nearly came to grief owing to the inability of his companion, Rosita Forbes, to read a compass correctly. This did not stop her from afterwards wrongly claiming in her book The Secret of the Sahara: Kufara (1921) that she had been the inspiration and leader of the exhibition. A courteous Hassanein never complained publicly, except for some hints that he confided to his close friends.

Hassanein's journey to Kufra helped him to go further, and in December 1922 he mounted on a new and meticulously planned scientific expedition from Sollum. He recorded bearings and measures of distances, took photos, samples, wrote his journal, interacted with his men to learn more about their traditions and places and natural phenomena. His success was ensured when he saw Kufra his destination in the horizon to correct its position for the first time on maps, but — even to his own surprise — there was more to be discovered.

The climax of his expedition was the discovery of unknown water sources that opened new Sahara routes from Kufra to Sudanic Africa. The water sources or 'The Lost Oases' are Jebel Uweinat and Jebel Arkenu that were not even known to the Senussis he visited in Kufra. There is where he is still remembered till today for the significant rock art he's been able to report in photos.

In September 1924, his famous report was published in the National Geographic Magazine with 47 photos and a map. His book 'The Lost Oasis' has followed a year later in English and subsequently in Arabic and German.

Ahmed's exploits were several and impressive: an unusually accurate map of a so-far-unknown region (based on astro-fixing and triangulation techniques), introduction to the history and some traditions of a mysterious middle-eastern sect (Senussis in Libya) who've fought for their independence fiercely, memoir culminating to a famous world-class book at the time, geological collection, thousands of photos, hours of footage, Bey title, and the prestigious Gold Medal of the British Royal Geographical Society in 1924.

The Royal Geographical Society's Gold Medal

British most prestigious award for its Geographic Explorers is what's called the Founders (Gold) Medal awarded by the Royal Geographical Society in London. A most prestigious award indeed for it had the likes of Thesiger,
Gertrude Bell, Livingstone, and Richard Burton on its list in addition to more recent ones such as Neil Armstrong (American astronaught). Check its website here for more. On 2008/8/9 the full list could be downloaded by the website here). It's worth noting that Ahmed is the only non-European to have won it since its inception on 1831 till today.

The End

Mausoleum of Hassanein Bey (Pasha) by architect Hassan Fathy

On 19th February 1946, Ahmed Pasha was killed in an automobile accident in his car by a British military car. He was buried in the cemetery at Salah Salem St in a mausoleum built by the internationally famous Architect Hassan Fathy who was Ahmed's brother-in-law by marriage of his sister Aziza Hassanein.

Hassanein's Mausoleum

The imposing mausoleum is a very famous landmark now that it
stands out at Salah Salem street in Cairo across from Al-Azhar

Mausoleum of Hassanein Bey (Pasha) by Hassan Fathy facing the Al Azhar Mashiakha Building

In spite of its outstanding location of the mausoleum and that
it's seen by millions of Cairene everyday, the fact that the
legendary Explorer of the 1920s lying there and that it's been
built by Hassan Fathy is usually a surprise to everybody.

Mausoleum of Hassanein Bey (Pasha) by Hassan Fathy

Mausoleum of Hassanein Bey (Pasha) by Hassan Fathy. Click here to go to MIT website

Map of Hassanein's Mausoleum

In Google, that's how it is located:

Location of the Mausoleum of Hassanein Bey (Pasha) by Hassan Fathy

This is a satellite image and
not map so this commentary is needed. Street of Salah Salem is the
large diagonal black strip at the end of Al Azhar street coming from
upper left. Al Azhar Mashiakha Building is at the center of the upper
half and across Salah Salem street from it is where the Mausoleum is
located. Al Azhar Park is across Al Azhar street and is located with its
winding routes at the left half of this map. Coordinates in decimal
minutes are added so that GPS could be used to help find it.