Exploring Cairo: Beit El-Umma offers glimpses of Saad Zaghloul's life

Samar Nasr , Saturday 9 Mar 2019

Ahram Online tours Saad Zaghloul's official residence, now a museum, in downtown Cairo

A huge statue for Saad Zaghloul placed at the entrance of the museum (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

Beit El-Umma, or The House of the People, was built as a residence for the nationalist leader and founder of the Wafd party, Saad Zaghloul (1857-1927).

Zaghloul’s exile sparked the events that led to the Egyptian revolution of 1919.  

Ahram Online takes a tour of his home, which has been turned into a museum that narrates a very important era in Egypt`s history.  

The museum is located near downtown, beside Qasr El-Aini Street, close to Saad Zaghloul metro station.

A large statue of Zaghloul stands beside a small green area at the entrance to the museum.

The first hall, named the Small Salon, where Mrs Safia Zaghloul received her guests, is furnished with expensive carpets and furniture. The wall is adorned with family photos of Moustafa Fahmy Pasha – Zaghloul's father-in-law – Safia, and her mother.

Saad Zaghloul Museum

The Grand Salon is dedicated to Saad Zaghloul’s guests, especially political figures and key members of the Wafd party.

Saad Zaghloul Museum
A small salon where Mrs Safia Zaghloul received her guests (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

The Grand Salon leads into the grand hall, which witnessed the meetings of different delegations from the Egyptian people. The room contains small statues, and newspapers and magazines that were read by Zaghloul.

Saad Zaghloul Museum
ceremonial costumes for Saad Zaghloul. (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

The dining room, also located on the ground floor, is adorned with wooden furniture Zaghloul bought from France, comprising 12 seats, a tea car, and an old radio.  

Saad Zaghloul Museum
Glasses, Cups and mugs covered with Saad Zaghloul coloured images (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

The winter study had a special appeal for Zaghloul, according to his memoirs.

Saad Zaghloul Museum
The dinning room which Saad Zaghloul brought from France (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

The room includes a desk with a mirror to reveal any potential danger coming from the back window, and three statues of Zaghloul.  

Saad Zaghloul Museum
Mr&Mrs Zaghloul's bedroom (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

The second floor in the museum represents family life.

The first room is Safia Zaghloul’s dressing room, it was obvious that most of her dresses were in black as she wore it for 19 years.

Saad Zaghloul Museum
Saad Zaghloul's personal library (Photo: Ayman HAfez)

The room is in the building opposite a shrine to Saad Zaghloul erected after his death, which Safia could view from her window.

Saad Zaghloul Museum
Mrs Safia Zaghloul dressing room (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

The bedroom includes two beds, and after Saad’s death, Safia continued to sleep there until her own death on 12 January 1946.  

Next there is Zaghloul’s private room, where you can see his ceremonial wear and the suit he was wearing when he survived an assassination attempt at a railway station in 1924.

Saad Zaghloul Museum
A panadol (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

There you will find the diary which was held by Safia on the day of her husband’s death, 23 August 1927.  

In the Haramlek room, where women would sit together separated from the men, there is a pictures of Safia, who was also known as Umm El-Masriyeen, or Mother of Egyptians.

The living room also contains a small corner for Safia, with her bureau, personal letters and books.

In the hall beside the stairs you will find two mummified parrots, who refused to eat or drink after Zaghloul’s death.

There is also a large library with over 5,000 books in different fields.

The museum is open every day except Friday and Saturday, from 9am to 6pm.  

Tickets coast EGP 1 for Egyptian students, EGP 3 for Egyptians, EGP 5 for foreign students and EGP 10 for foreigners. Photos can only be taken with permission from the culture ministry. 

Saad Zaghloul Museum
Saad Zaghloul`s friend Dr Hafez gave birth to twin babies and named them Safia&Saad (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

Saad Zaghloul Museum
An elevator in the first floor, decorated with Saad Zaghloul`s name (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

Saad Zaghloul Museum
Saad and Safia Zaghloul's travel suitcases (Photo: ayman Hafez)


*This article was first published on 29 September 2017

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