Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Prince Youssef Kamal : The Art lover

Updated on 31/7/2021: Some links and photos were changed only in the post. 

This is for the occasion of the Revolution day, some old good days from the time Pre-the 23rd of July, not that I am against the revolution, on the contrary, I am with its principles but it is good to pay respect to those who built this great nation.
Prince Youssef Kamal of Egypt
Prince Youssef Kamal of Egypt 

Prince Youssef Kamal is one of those people whom we should remember before the revolution for what he had done to this nation not only Egypt but the Arab world. 

This man gave a lot to the country but very few remembered what he had done due to the unfair defaming campaign that followed the Mohammed Ali Royal Family like any other royal family facing a revolution or a coup.
There are two important reasons why I should remember him in 2008: The centennial celebration of the Cairo University and The centennial celebration of the school of fine Arts in Egypt. 

He helped in establishing those great educational institutions that changed not Egypt alone but the whole Arab World and this is why I mentioned the Arab world earlier.
We owe this man a lot for his great effort and contribution to building the first national university in the Arab World.

 This man donated to Cairo University aka The Egyptian National University then 125 agricultural acres in Qalyubia with their revenue, he was the highest donator and here it was not land for construction but as a source of funding, the money that comes from these acres would be for the University, it is a Waqaf.

During WWI Prince Youssef donated L.E 2 thousand to Cairo University when this sum was equal to L.E 2 Million as the University was suffering.

 Kamal headed the University from 1916-1917. During that sole year, he sent several students abroad to complete their education at his own expense. This is a little brief about what he did for this University.

Not only Prince Youssef played an important role in establishing our University but he was the founder of the school of the Fine Arts in Cairo. 

It started as an association for the lovers of the Fine Arts in 1908 but it became the school or faculty of fine Arts in 1932, He founded the school along with his friend arts lover and collector businessman Mahmoud Khalil. He even sent one of the first brilliant students in the school to Europe to complete his education, that brilliant student was legendary sculptor Mahmoud Mukhtar.  

Prince Youssef was an Arts lover and a huge collector. He was a huge fan of Islamic culture and architecture. He would travel the world to collect very rare art pieces and dedicate them to the Royal museums. There are several artefacts owned by him in the Abdeen palace museums complex from silver and glass, you can see them below.

He was also a traveller and explorer who wrote several books about geography, history and his trips.

 One of his few books that found its way to us now is his book “My tourism in the lands of West Tibet and Kashmir”  which he published in the year 1915 about his trip to that part in the world between 
"My Tourism in the British India lands"
book by Prince Youssef Kamal in 1915
on his visit to India 


 This book came again to enrich the Arabic Readers’ Library in the year 2001 and was reprinted in 2004 through the researcher Gamal Melham and the Lebanese publishing house publishing. You can demand it online through book is a very important reference, I wish that someone would translate it to English just the AUC did with Ahmed Pasha Hasseinein book “The last Oases”.

Prince Kamal was not only an Arts lover.  He also helped in the development of Upper Egypt especially in Qena where he built schools and hospitals, even worked on entering modern agricultural methods there to improve agricultural wealth.

Prince Youssef Kamal had several palaces but most known are three palaces; all of them are considered an icon in their design. The Prince had palaces in Alexandria, Cairo and  Qena.

The palace at Alexandria was built in 1912 and it became the National Marine museum. 

The Palaces complex in Qena was built in Nag Hammadi and in 1999 the Prime minister issued a decree that recognized it as a landmark to be preserved especially the dining room in the main palace. Yes, the dining room. 

The Palaces complex was based upon Islamic architecture. They are three palaces. The first was the main palace where he lived and it turned into some kind of financial authority following the ministry of finance. The second palace is the “Haramlek” for ladies; he built it for his mother and his princesses sisters. 

That palace is famous for the wooden Oriental evaluator he requested to be made specifically for his mother who was suffering from heart disease. It is a two floors building. 

The third Palace is the “Salamlek” which he used for meeting and for guests. There were other buildings in the complex that were used for kitchen, laundry...Etc. It is on the Nile by the way. You can see the location on the map below.

View Larger Map

Ironically after 40 years of his death in 2005, the court in Nag Hammadi ruled for Prince Youssef Kamal in his lawsuit against Bandary Garages Roman and his son Nader!! 

The fight started in 1949 over a piece of land Bandary and son took without a right from the prince’s land. That case is from the longest cases in front of the Egyptian courts, I guess you know why. Already I am amazed because the Prince did not use his privileges and used the law instead. Not many people nowadays do this especially when they are the right. 

Of course, I will not speak about how slow is the judicial system that says its word in a lawsuit after 59 years!! By the way, the representative of Prince Youssef Kamal is the State.

The third palace which inspired me to write this post originally is his palace in Mataria; east Cairo. This palace was built in 13 years from 1908 to 1921. It was designed by the famous Italian architect Antonio Lasciac or Anton Lasciac. 

Lasciac designed very important landmarks in Egypt from public places like the Raml Railway station in Alexandria and Royal palaces like the Tahra palace and the Princess Nimetullah Palace in Tahrir square which is now the foreign ministry HQ.

I saw the palace and its interior design in last month edition in Al Ahram’s monthly magazine “El-Beit” and I scanned the whole report for the beauty of the images. The palace was built on 14 acres. 

The palace from the outside was built in the European style whereas from inside the Oriental Islamic style was mixed with the European Style. 

Below there is a slideshow for the Palace, please enjoy it :)

Prince Youssef Kamal's palace in Mataria

The palace now is the headquarter of the desert research centre, to tell you the truth, unlike many people, I think that Prince Youssef would appreciate that his palace was turned into an important research centre like this, yes we do not know its importance yet and yes the state does not recognize its importance yet.

Still, I believe one-day scientific research in this country will take the position it should take. As I said Prince Youssef was a hell of a traveller who loved geography and science. Here is its location on the map.

View Larger Map

Prince Youssef Kamal was the grandson of Ibrahim Pasha, the great Military leader and ruler and the son of Mohammed Ali Pasha. He was born on the 17th of October 1882.

 He was a real patriot. It was enough that after the revolution of 1952 he Pince Youssef Kamal and the Dowla Pashagave the government all his possessions outside the country for his belief that it was good and noble for this nation. 

 Still, he left Egypt afterwards to live in Austria. He died there in the year 1965. I do not know if he was buried in Egypt or not still I believe it is Egypt’s duty to restore the body of Prince Youssef Kamal to be buried in Egypt for what he did to his country. 

By the way, Prince Youssef was nominated to rule Egypt instead of Prince Ahmed Fouad I after the sultan Hussein Kamel but he refused and I think it was because he was interested in rule; his personality says that he was a kind of personality that contributed more to the country in other fields than politics.


  1. Z..have u ever visited this looks is nice that it is now a research centre...if i go back 2 Cairo I want 2 visit Abdeen Palace if it is open to the public. I went with my father in 1990 to visit Mohamed Ali Palace...what a beautiful was my favourite place in Cairo...the most lovely painting on the walls...but it was somewhat rundown...i wish they would maintain this landmark building in good condition..they could open them to the tourists in order to generate income.

  2. @N.American, No I have not yet ,but it is on my list. I recommend that you visit Abdeen Palace,I visited during School it was great trip , fantastic palace .
    Mohammed Ali Palace now became more beautiful after the restoration process.
    I wish too that they keep that palace in a good shape and turn it in to some kind of tourist attraction :)

  3. I've been to this palace and it's amazing!
    Actually the architecture is truly impressive and there are few rooms left as they were originally and you can smell and touch the glamour everywhere. The dinning room is beyond words of description with precious stones in the wall decorations and wow! :)

  4. @Mahmoud, you are so so so lucky.Tell me is it open for visits ??
    I want to go so much

  5. I am so impressed for the material i knew.i was graduated from the faculty fine arts ,graphic design ,and i know nothing about prince kamal,i know it is a shame but thanks for information.

  6. I googled the name of Youssouf Kamal as I came across an envelope sent from him to my Great Uncle addressed from Mataria-near-Cairo. I knew my Great Uncle had been friends with an Egyptian prince but I had no idea who he was until I came upon the envelope. Unfortunately I have no idea what happened to the contents of the envelope. My Great Uncle was a surgeon to the British Royal household and met the prince while traveling to Egypt with them.

  7. Prince Youssef Kamal was the grandson of Ibrahim Pasha, but who is his father? The sultan Hussein kamel? Why wikipedia didn't quote him? Can you update wikiquote ?


Thank You for your comment
Please keep it civilized here, racist and hateful comments are not accepted
The Comments in this blog with exclusion of the blog's owner does not represent the views of the blog's owner.