Armenians of Cairo
Like the rest of the population of Egypt, Armenian Egyptians are known for their sense of humour. They enjoy a good joke and know how to make others laugh. A prime example of this was the political satirist and cartoonist, Alexander Saroukhan who left his mark on the Egyptian media.
Armenian migration to and from Egypt
Armenians living in Egypt were estimated at over 12,000 in 1917, rising to 17,188 post-Genocide and dispersion in 1927. By 1952, the Armenian population was nearly 60,000, mostly concentrated in Cairo and Alexandria. In the aftermath of the Revolution of 1952, bringing Gamal Abdel Nasser to power, a large proportion of Armenians emigrated, many of them to the West. Today Armenians in Egypt are estimated to be around 5,000.
Armenian hubs in Cairo
The majority of Armenians who arrived around the time of the Genocide initially settled in the heart of Cairo. The Bein el-Sourain and Darb el-Guenena areas were considered to be Armenian areas in the first half of the 20th century. Later on, Armenians began to move towards the suburbs after they had already established their businesses and institutions in the central areas. Armenians moved to areas such as Heleopolis, Nozha, Maadi, and Helwan. Today, Heleopolis is considered to be the main headquarters for Armenians in Cairo.
The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) was established in Cairo in 1906 by Boghos Nubar, the son of the first Prime Minister of modern Egypt, Nubar Nubarian (Nubar Pasha). The Kalousdian Armenian School is the oldest institution of private education in Egypt and the oldest remaining Armenian school in the country. It was established in 1954 by Garabed Agha Kalousd in Cairo.
Famous Egyptian Armenians
A number of Armenians have become famous in Egypt, beyond the Armenian community. Ohan Hagob Justinian was the first person to manufacture cameras for film production in Cairo and Alexandria, making 12 Egyptian films between 1948 and 1957.
Beyrouz Artin Kalfaian (Fayrouz), Nonia Kobelian (Lebleba), and Mary Nizar Julian (Mimi Gamal) are famous actresses in Egyptian cinema. In addition, Foad Grabit Panosian (Foad al-Zahery) was a well-known musician, composing the music for some 350 Egyptian films.
The first Armenian paper to be established in Egypt was Armaveni (Date Palm), founded in Cairo by Abraham Mouradian in 1865. Three periodicals are based in Cairo and represent each of the main Armenian Diaspora political parties: Housaper (Dashnak), founded in 1913; Tchahagir (Hnchak), founded in 1948; and Arev (Ramkavar), founded in 1915.
Photo Credit: Chaghig Filian