North–South movements
The cross-Mediterranean movements of the privileged few
The cosmopolitan elite of Europe and the Arab and Ottoman world felt equally comfortable on both shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
The people who crossed the Mediterranean to live in another country included individual members of the upper classes who chose to move abroad – either temporarily or permanently – in order to follow their scholarly interests, to pursue their careers, for business, for education or for a wide range of other objectives. Meanwhile, 19th-century governments of the Ottoman Empire and of Arab countries sent serving or prospective government officials to study and broaden their skills overseas. On the whole, this flow of privileged individuals to and fro led to the creation of a Mediterranean elite that moved confidently between European and Arab and Ottoman cultures and traditions.
The daughter of the English ambassador riding in a palanquin

Late 19th century

Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey

Fausto Zonaro

Oil on canvas

During the 19th century, many European diplomats lived in Arab and Ottoman countries and vice versa. For example, in the 1830s there were 14 foreign consulates in Tunis. Ottoman Sultan Salim III (1789–1806) opened the Empire’s first embassy in London in 1793, followed by others in Paris, Berlin and Vienna. In the early 19th century, Morocco had ambassadors in St Petersburg, London and Berlin.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Privateering and captivity in the Mediterranean
Migrations within the Ottoman Empire
North–South movements
The life of European immigrant communities: Egypt and Tunisia