Mohamed Talaat Bin Hassan Mohamed is an Egyptian economist, visionary, writter and member of the Egyptian Senate. He is the founder of Banque Misr (Bank of Egypt) and its group of companies, and is one of Egypt’s most prominent economists. He was given the title of “The Father of Egypt’s national economy”, as he strived to liberate the Egyptian economy from foreign domination.
He contributed to establish the Banque Misr and many major Egyptian companies, such as Misr Spinning and Weaving Company, Egypt Air, Misr Insurance Holding Company, Misr Mine & Quarry Company, Misr Oil Refining Company, Misr Travel and Misr Studio.
Harb was born in Cairo and graduated from the law school in 1889. He worked as a translator at the Khewayda District; then, he was promoted to be the manager of the Accounting Department. He later became the director of the Dispute office and head of Lawsuit Registry.
Harb was chosen to be the director of Komombo at its Cairo-based main office. Then, he was appointed as a director of the Egyptian Real Estate Company. He strived to nationalize the company and sought to make Egyptians own most of its stock.
In 1910, the foreign-owned Suez Canal Company proposed to extend its franchise contract for 50 years; however, Talaat Harb mobilized the public opinion against this proposal and published his book “Egypt & Suez Canal”. All these efforts have later forced the Egyptian Parliament to reject the proposal.
He participated in the Egyptian revolution of 1919 and the idea to establish a national Egyptian bank to liberate the Egyptian economy from foreign dominance started to take a shape. He contributed to establish the financial cooperation company in order to grant loans to Egyptians. After Talaat’s idea began to resonate, many people rallied around him and they succeeded in establishing Banque Misr in 1920. Many other major economic projects were carried out abroad and in Egypt.
In 1940, the bank faced a major financial crisis. Given pressure of both the Egyptian Government and the foreign occupation authorities, the National Bank of Egypt refused to grant Banque Misr loans secured by securities’ portfolio. Then, Talaat sought help of the Minister of Finance who told him back then to resign from his office in order to resolve the crisis. Then, he was forced to resign in 1939.
Talaat Harb made many contributions to literary and culture, most importantly his famous opposition to books and ideas of Qasim Amin, which has made him publish his two books: “Raising women and the veil” and “Last word on the woman and the veil”.
He also published other works, such as “Egypt and the Suez Canal” and “Arab History and Islam”. He was also a member of the Egyptian Geographical Society.
In 1941, Talaat Harb Pasha passed away at a small village in Damietta after engraving his name in the various Financial Institutions and Industries that stand today as pillars of the Egyptian economy. Along the coming weeks The Middle East Observer is proud to present the story of Talaat Harb in a series of chapters as a success story of a man we will never forget.
Talaat Pasha Harb
Title: Father of Egypt’s national economy
His sons & daughters: Hassan, Fatima, Aisha, Khadija and Huda.
Education: Bachelor of law