Abbas Helmy I of Egypt (also famous as Abbas Pasha, Arabic: عباس الأول, Turkish: I. Abbas Hilmi Paşa 1 July 1812 – 13 July 1854) was the Wali of Egypt and Sudan. He was a son of Tusun Pasha , the younger son of Muhammad Ali Pasha whom he succeeded as ruler of Egypt and Sudan. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary says of him: “[b]igoted and sensual, he did much to undo the progress made under Muhammad Ali.”

Early years

Abbas was born on 1 July 1812 in Jeddah and was brought up in Cairo. Being the grandson of Muhammad Ali, he succeeded his uncle Ibrahim Pasha in ruling Egypt and Sudan in 1848.

As a young man, he fought in the Levant under his uncle Ibrahim Pasha in the Syrian War. Muhammad Ali Pasha was removed from office on 1 September 1848, on account of mental weakness. He was replaced by his son Ibrahim Pasha, who reigned briefly as Regent of Egypt and Sudan from 1 September 1848 until his death on 10 November 1848. The death of Ibrahim made Abbas I, in turn, Regent of Egypt and Sudan from 10 November 1848 until 2 August 1849 (the date of Muhammad Ali Pasha’s death), at which time Abbas became the reigning Wāli of Egypt and Sudan until 13 July 1854.

Ruler of Egypt

In fact,Abbas was famous as a mere voluptuary. But Nubar Pasha spoke of him as a true gentleman of the “old school”. He was seen as reactionary, morose and taciturn, and spent nearly all his time in his palace. He undid, as far as lay in his power, the works of his grandfather, both good and bad. Among other things, he abolished trade monopolies, closed factories and schools, and reduced the strength of the region’s army to 9,000 men. He also shut down construction of the Delta Dam and opposed the construction of the Suez Canal.

A 1886 study wrote of Abbas that he “undertook no great works, built no new canals. And did not even carry out the schemes and plans of his predecessors. Abbas was famous as bigot and a miser. He certainly was neither liberal in mind nor lavish with money.”