The Universal Exhibitions represent one of the first forms of mass communication.
Each International Exhibition produced its own official iconography relating to the innovative message that characterised it, both in terms of industrial and technological progress and also as propaganda to promote various political objectives. The Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851 attracted six million visitors, representing mass communication, a forerunner to mass media, never witnessed before. Promotional activities undertaken by the press along with the issue of many dedicated handouts published in the participating countries were central to the popularity of these exhibitions, while manifestos and satire documented the excesses of self-congratulation, popular perceptions and the changing mood. On a political level, the exhibitions offered an excellent international stage for self-promotion; good examples of this are seen in the coverage of the official visits of Isma‘il Pasha of Egypt and that of the Ottoman Sultan ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Abdülaziz) as a guest of Napoleon III to the exhibition held in Paris in 1867. Two years later there was a similar ceremony at Ismaïlia to mark the opening of the Suez Canal.