U.S. Consulate Alexandria

The Consulate General provides commercial and political partnership opportunities and cultural and educational programming, within the following eight governorates in Egypt’s North Coast and Delta region:

Alexandria (capital city: Alexandria)
Beheira (capital city: Damanhour)
Matrouh (capital city: Marsa Matrouh)
Kafr El Sheikh (capital city: Kafr El Sheikh)
Dakahlia (capital city: Mansoura)
Damietta (capital city: Damietta)
Gharbia (capital city: Tanta)
Port Said (capital city: Port Said)

A History of U.S.-Alexandria Relations

The First U.S. Presence in Alexandria

The U.S.-Egyptian diplomatic relationship began with the signing of a treaty, May 7, 1830, giving the United States of America capitulatory privileges on a most-favored-nation basis throughout the Ottoman Empire, including Egypt. An American consular office was established five years later with John Gliddon, an English businessman resident in Alexandria, appointed to head it. Trade with the port of Alexandria was “at last commencing,” Gliddon enthusiastically reported on August 28, 1835, when two American vessels arrived from Boston with cargo. Demand for Egyptian cotton soared in the 1860s when the U.S.—embroiled in its bitter Civil War—could no longer meet world demand.

The Thomas Jefferson Library

The U.S. opened a small library in Alexandria in 1947. In the 1950’s, the Thomas Jefferson Library was located in an apartment at 11 Horreya Street. It was later relocated to Pharaana Street in 1962. Retired banker Zikri Morcos remembers when he became a library member in 1954: “I was in a French high school and joined to improve my English skills. All during my college years, I visited the library regularly.” Likewise Alexandria University Professor Emeritus Ahmed Gadallah, former Director of the University’s In-Service Teacher Training Center, says the library helped improve his English, too. “I joined the library in 1952 after graduation. Two years later I was mobilized and sent to Al Arish. At that time, British soldiers were in the Canal area, and we had to communicate with them. Because my English was good, I was chosen to teach English to the soldiers and officers. That is how I started teaching.” Morcos and Gadallah still have their old library cards as does retired Middle East News Agency correspondent Fawzi Omar, who remembers joining the United States Information Service Library in Cairo in 1958. When he moved to Alexandria afterwards, he joined the Thomas Jefferson Library on Pharaana Street.

The American Center Alexandria

In 1979, the Thomas Jefferson Library was renovated and re-opened as the American Cultural Center. The Center housed the library and an English teaching program. Then, in 1992, the name of the building changed once again to the American Center Alexandria, an expanded version of the Cultural Center that preceded it.

Closure of the U.S. Consulate

During the 1990’s, it became clear that the U.S. Consulate was threatened with closure. Strong domestic pressures from the U.S. Congress to reduce the foreign affairs budget made the State Department look closely at all its consulates. Despite heavy lobbying from the Government of Egypt, the people of Alexandria and the many former Foreign Service Officers who had served in Egypt, the die was cast. The flag was lowered for the last time on September 30, 1993. Several years later, the old site of the U.S. Consulate was later bought by the Government of Egypt and transformed into the Alexandria National Museum.

The American Center Alexandria continued to operate after the closure of the U.S. Consulate, offering public affairs programming, consular services for resident Americans, and business and political partnership opportunities to Egypt’s North Coast and Delta region. In 2012, when the U.S. consulate was re-opened, the American Center Alexandria was consolidated into the Consulate in the same building on Pharaana Street.  That building closed to the public in 2013, and a new Consulate office is opening in 2016 at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Montazah.

Credit: Most of the information on this page has been re-printed from “Window on America,” a 2002 publication of the American Center Alexandria.

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