In the cities with extensive immigrant communities, cultural and leisure associations soon sprang up to cater for their entertainment and provide a focus for social interaction.
In the life of immigrant communities, leisure activities played an important role in preserving cultural identity and group solidarity. When they met in family gatherings or for a drink in smart hotels, or when they watched a theatre performance together, immigrants were not only having a good time: they were also preserving and reasserting ties with their kin and compatriots. Such networks helped immigrants to cope with the challenges they met in their adopted countries.
At the same time, places for socialising were also sites for cultural interchange. During the 19th century – thanks to the initiative of European immigrants in Tunisia, and under the impulse of the Khedive in Egypt – several theatres and concert halls opened where international troupes, ballets and orchestra companies performed for the European immigrants and the local elite.