The Muslim Eton, Victoria College, Alexandria, cements the network of friendships and family ties that characterize the highest levels of the contemporary Islamic world throughout the Middle East.
The college was founded in 1902 under the impetus of the recently enobled Evelyn Baring, 1st Earl of Cromer of the Barings Bank, that was heavily invested in Egyptian stability. For years the British Consul-General was ex officio on the board of Victoria College. The new college was to raise the standard of Imperial education and free it from the influences of the madrassas and the ubiquitous Jesuits, both of whom made the British foreign office uneasy. Among prominent subscribers to the project were members of the prominent internationalized Jewish minority in Egypt.
During World War II, many displaced European royals and nobs were added to the student body:
- " As the situation worsened north of the Mediterranean, scions of European monarchies expanded the student body further so that Romanovs, Saxe-Coburgs, Hohenzollerns, Zogos and Glucksburgs rubbed shoulders with the Hashemites, Mahdis and al-Sharifs. While most were treated like regular students some stood out because of restrictions imposed upon them. The Albanian royals, the Zogos, for instance, were constantly trailed by massive bodyguards, which is perhaps why didn't last long at Victoria. Years later, many among the Arab elite students would meet again this time as major players in rising petrodollar economies." (Samir Raafat)
The British Imperial-outpost phase of Victoria College ended abruptly in 1956, the year that began with the dissolution of Anglo-Egyptian cooperation and saw the Suez Crisis in October. The entire British faculty was fired.
But the College continues to this day. At Victoria College on El Iqbal Street, the bin Laden boys attended classes along with schoolmates such as King Hussein of Jordan, Zaid Al Rifai , the Kashoggi brothers (whose father was one of Saudi King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud's physicians), Kamal Adham (who ran the Saudi [security] services under King Faisal), present-day contractors Mohammed Al Attas, Fahd Shobokshi and Ghassan Sakr— and actor Omar Sharif.