Ali Bey Al-Qabir


Old Cairo

Ali Bey Al-Qabir (1728-1773), The Mameluke Ruler of Egypt. He was born in Abkhazia (West Georgia) in the family of a poor priest and was given the name of Yoseb. In 1741 he was kidnapped and sold to Egyptian merchant Kiurd Ahmed, who presented him to Ibrahim Qahia, a high-ranking statesman of Georgian origin. Thanks to his talents, Ali Bey rose to the high position in Egyptian hierarchy. In 1763 he was elected Shaikh Al-Ballad, leader of Egyptian Mameluke government. He maintained contacts with Georgia.

During the 1768-1774 Russian-Ottoman War Ali Bey Al-Qabir came in close contact with Russia. In 1769 he ousted Turkish Sultan from Cairo and declared the independence of Egypt. Ali Bey undertook a military campaign against Arabia and took over the town of Hijaz. For that deed Abd Al-Lah, Sheriff of Mecca-Medina, granted him the title of the Sultan of Egypt and the Red and Mediterranean Seas and dubbed him Qabir (Great).

In 1772 Ali Bey liberated Palestine, Libya and Southern Syria, including Damascus. A group of Mameluke commanders, led by Abu Zahab, renounced him and waged war against him. Crushed Ali Bey Al-Qabir retreated and found shelter in Akka. In 1773 in an attempt to regain power, he struck back at the rebellious Beys but in the battle at Salihia Ali Bey Al-Qabir was defeated and taken prisoner.

He was killed in Cairo and buried at Qarafa cemetery.