Al-Falaki, Mahmud Ahmad Hamdi (1815-1885)

Engineer, mathematician, and scientist. Mahmud Al-Falaki was born in the village of al-Hissa (Gharbiyya province); his father died early, and he was brought up by a brother and sent to Muhummad Ali's Polytechnic School in the Citadel, He later taught mathematics and astronomy at that school.
Chosen to be a part of 'ABBAS I's student scholorship to Europe in 1851, he spent nine years in Paris. Upon his return to Cairo, Khedive SA'ID entrusted him with drawing maps, among them the first complete topographic map of Egypt .
He held several important government posts, including public works minister, and the president of the Khedivial Geographic Society.
He represented Egypt at the International Congress of Geographer in Venice in 1881 and in Paris in 1885.
As minister of education (1884-1885) he introduced several important educational reforms, one of which was to require that the foreign schools receiving subsidies from the Egyptian government undergo regular inspections.
In his published writings, he tried to prove that the Giza Pyramids were built for astronomical purposes; he also established the exact birth and death dates of probhet Muhammad.
He directed the Education Ministry and the Geographical Society until his death in Cairo.
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