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Suarès Family

SUARèS FAMILY

Prominent Sephardic family, influential in Egyptian society and economy.

The Suarès family settled in Livorno, Italy, then went to Egypt during the first half of the nineteenth century. Menachem Suarès della Pegna settled in Alexandria while his brother Isaac settled in Cairo. In the mid-1870s Isaac's sonsJoseph (18371900), Félix (18441906), and Raphael (18461902)created the Banque Suarès, which until 1906 served as mediator for European capital investment in Egypt. Given Raphael Suarès's connections with British industrial investors, he channeled British investments into such enterprises as the construction of the first Aswan Dam, the National Bank of Egypt, and the khedivial estates (al-da'ira al-saniyya). The Suarès family was not only involved in banking and finance but also transportation, establishing in Cairo the first public transportation company and building railway lines between Cairo and Helwan, Qina and Aswan. Members of the family owned real estate in the heart of Cairo where Suarès Square bore Félix Suarès's name (Maydan Suarès was renamed, in 1939, Maydan Mustafa Kamil).

One family member, Edgar Suarès, was involved with a major shareholders' company. Owing to his initiative, vast areas of landseveral thousand feddan (a feddan is approximately one acre)were purchased in Upper and Lower Egypt. Edgar Suarès reclaimed them and introduced modern irrigation facilities for large-scale agricultural development. He subsequently sold the land as small holdings to rural Egyptians at low prices and long-term credit. The Suarèses were not very active in Jewish communal affairs; only Edgar Suarès served very briefly as president of Alexandria's Jewish community during World War I. Their influence in Egyptian society and the economy declined after the 1930s.


Bibliography

Krämer, Gudrun. The Jews in Modern Egypt, 19141952. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1989.

Mizrahi, Maurice. "The Role of Jews in Economic Development." In The Jews of Egypt: A Mediterranean Society in Modern Times, edited by Shimon Shamir. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1987.

michael m. laskier

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