What is the origin of the Middle Eastern state? Although social scientists have traditionally emphasized the role of the European colonial experience, especially the British and French mandates following World War I, the late Ottoman era from the Edict of Gülhane in 1839 that inaugurated the Tanzimat reforms until World War I represents a period at least as critical to understanding origins of the state in the region. Certain Ottoman provinces known as Eyalet-i Mümtaze or exceptional/special provinces developed under the aegis of the Ottoman Empire that acquired many statelike attributes without becoming independent polities. Moreover, the nature of the Ottoman Imperial center changed to become more similar to that of a territorially delimited state as opposed to the classic multifaceted polity that had been the earlier norm. These developments resulted in a blurring of lines that had traditionally defined state and empire during the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire. To illustrate this change, economic, administrative, and political examples are presented from Egypt and Turkey. This comparative analysis will identify ways the evolution of the two states was similar as well as critical differences such as the extent of foreign intervention and the role played by representative assemblies. The formation of imperial states within the empire as well as the transformation of the empire to become more statelike resulted in strong state institutions in places such as Egypt and Turkey that long preceded the main European colonial intervention in the region after World War I.