Past Cities

As-Suways, Suez, Egypt

As-Suways, commonly known as Suez, is a city located in the northeastern part of Egypt, situated at the northern end of the Suez Canal. It has a rich and storied history that spans thousands of years, characterized by its strategic geographical position and its connection to important political and economic events.

The city of As-Suways has been a crucial trading hub since ancient times due to its strategic location between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Throughout its history, it has served as a vital link between Europe, Asia, and Africa. The region surrounding As-Suways has witnessed human settlement for millennia, with evidence of early civilizations dating back to the Pharaonic era. However, it was during the Roman period that the city gained prominence as a thriving port and commercial center.

During the Islamic era, As-Suways continued to flourish as a trading post. Its proximity to the Red Sea allowed for extensive maritime trade with other Islamic regions, such as the Arabian Peninsula, India, and East Africa. The city's population grew steadily, attracting people from various cultural backgrounds, including Arabs, Persians, Indians, and Africans. This diverse population contributed to the cosmopolitan nature of As-Suways and enriched its cultural heritage.

In the modern era, the political environment and geography of As-Suways played a pivotal role in shaping its history. The construction of the Suez Canal in the 19th century, under the leadership of the French diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, brought significant changes to the city. The canal, completed in 1869, provided a direct waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, thereby reducing the distance and time required for maritime trade between Europe and Asia. As a result, As-Suways experienced a rapid influx of merchants, entrepreneurs, and workers, leading to a substantial increase in its population.

The political landscape of As-Suways was greatly influenced by the colonial ambitions of European powers in the 19th and 20th centuries. The control and administration of the Suez Canal became a highly contested issue, eventually leading to the establishment of the Suez Canal Company in 1858, which managed the canal until 1956. The city of As-Suways became a focal point of international attention, and its fortunes were tied to the political maneuverings of major powers.

One of the most significant events in As-Suways' history occurred in 1956 during the Suez Crisis. Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, which was previously under the control of the British and French. This move was met with a military intervention by the British, French, and Israeli forces. The ensuing conflict severely impacted As-Suways, leading to the destruction of infrastructure and a decline in trade activities. However, Egyptian resilience and determination eventually led to the withdrawal of foreign forces and the restoration of Egyptian control over the canal.

In the following decades, As-Suways experienced further developments and transformations. The city saw significant urbanization and modernization efforts, with the establishment of industrial zones and the construction of new residential areas. The population continued to grow, with the city becoming a major industrial center in Egypt. Industries such as petrochemicals, steel, and textiles flourished, attracting a large number of workers from various parts of the country.