Hekayat Osra Aremenia
(Stories of an Armenian Family) by Nabil Hefny Mahmoud, Cairo: General Organisation for Cultural Palaces, 2012. 221pp.
The history of Armenians in Egypt dates back to the age of the Roman Empire, but the time when Armenians started flooding into Egypt and had their own quarters, schools and churches was during the Fatimid Islamic period, according to researcher Nabil Hefny Mahmoud who tracks the history of one powerful family of Armenians.
Abul-Farag Bin Nekula the Armenian was the father of a family that had gained much power and whose members reached high positions in the Egyptian civil service, filling various positions, including in the ministry of defence, and even ruling Egypt at one point. Mahmoud's book delves into the beginning of the family settling in Egypt, referring to multiple sources and seeking to document the entire known history of the family.
The father started as a banker, a job particularly popular among Armenians and Copts in Egypt, and gradually ventured into the service of the throne until he became a minister. Despite the Christian origins of Armenians, many converted to Islam and were integrated within their communities, eventually retaining only their surnames (the Armenian) and no other ties to their original homeland. The stories continue until the last mention of the family, after five generations in the civil service and close to royal power.