Muhammad `Alī; (many spelling variations, included Turkish Mehmet Ali, are encountered) (1769-1849), was a viceroy of Egypt, and is sometimes considered the founder of modern Egypt.
Muhammad `Alī, an Albanian born in Kavala, made himself the ruler of Egypt and famously (and treacherously) massacred the Mameluke leaders. He introduced sweeping reforms to Egypt: he built an army from Egyptian peasants through conscription, using this force to expand Egypt's borders; he built much infrastructure, such as canals and roadways; and he established Egypt as one of the world's largest cotton producers. Muhammad `Alī also introduced significant social reforms, includign the creation of modern educational institutions. Most of his efforts, however, were focused on his successful strengthening of Egypt's armed forces.
While throughout his reign he was the nominal vassal of the Ottoman sultan, he acted independently. While he aided the sultan in fighting in the Greek War of Indepedence and put down a Wahhabi revolt in Arabia for him, later the two fell out. Under his son Ibrahīm Pasha, Muhammad `Alī's armies seized Palestine and Syria and were within a few days march of Constantinople. European intervention led to a negotitated solution, however; and after Muhammad `Alī fell out with his son, the gains were lost.
Muhammad `Alī was succeeded by two of his sonsóIbrahīm and `Abbāsóbut both were weak rulers, and, in large part because of his excesses, the country fell under the domination of Europeans.