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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎11r] (21/434)

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The record is made up of 1 file (214 folios). It was created in 31 Aug 1933-20 Mar 1939. It was written in English and French. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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Enclosure to Serial No. (22).
Attitude of His Majesty's Government towards the question of Arab
1. The phrase <£ Arab Unity ” is an extremely vague one, which has been
used in many different senses.
2. It is generally most in evidence on such occasions as Arab or Moslem
congresses, and was freely bandied about during the Moslem Congress at
Jeruselem in the autumn of 1931. On such occasions it is generally used
extremely loosely as a popular rallying cry against either “ Western Imperial
ism ” or the Zionist movement; but in actual fact it seldom amounts
to much more than a rather undigested idea of co-operation between Arabic
speaking people in matters of education and propaganda, but to some extent also
in such politico-religious questions as that of the Hejaz railway, the future of the
Holy Places, etc. Arab unity in this sense is something rather akin to pan-
Arabism, and appears to have no more practical significance than the rather
shadowy pan-Islamic movement, of which so much was heard some ten or twenty
years ago.
3. From the political and practical point of view, “ Arab unity ” should mean
the union, either in a single State or in a confederation of autonomous States, of all
former Ottoman territories, south of present-day Turkey, which have a predomi
nantly Arab population. This would to some extent limit the application
of the idea to the north-western half of Arabia—^.e., to the Arabic speaking territo
ries north-west of a line drawn from the middle of the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. to the
southern end of the Red Sea. It is in fact only to this area that the idea can be
regarded as properly applicable, and it is therefore mainly from this point of view
that the question is discussed in the present memorandum. But attempts may
well be made to extend the idea of Arab unity to the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. states and
south-eastern Arabia. It is thus not possible to consider the problem without
touching on its possible relation to these areas also.
4. The idea of Arab unity, as applied to the former Ottoman territories, i.e.,
to the Arabic speaking areas north-west of the line mentioned in the preceding
paragraph, was the ultimate aim of the Arab Revolt during the War, and was
the ideal for which the Hashimites, under Hussein and Colonel Lawrence, strove
during the war and armistice periods. There is no doubt that the remaining
members of the Hashimite family—Faisal, Ali and Abdullah have never aban
doned this dream, although subsequent developments have rendered it wholly
5. The most important of these subsequent developments, from the purely
Arabian point of view, has been the rise to power of Ibn Saud, and his conquest
of the greater part of the Arabian peninsula, including the former Kingdom of
the Hejaz. The dynastic rivalry between the Hashimites and the Saudis
renders it almost inconceivable that there could be any close or organic combi
nation between the territories respectively ruled by them. It is true that King
Feisal of Iraq has come to terms with King Ibn Saud and is now in friendly re
lations with Saudi Arabia, and that we are working hard—with at last a*^ fair
hope of success—to secure a similar rapprohment between Ibn Saud and the
Amir Abdullah of Transjordan. But the rivalry between the two family systems
is still a basic factor in the situation, and unless one group were virtually to
disappear, there seems no prospect whatever of any effective combination of the
territories at present ruled by Ibn Saud (i.e., the greater part of the Arabian
peninsula, including the former kingdom of the Hejaz), with those at present ruled
by the Hashimites, (i.e., the independent Kingdom of Iraq and the mandated
territory of Transjordan). While the Arabs are themselves divided into these
two great groups, any talk of Arab political unity in the wider sense must be
6. It would, moreover, be impossible for His Majesty’s Government to support
either of these groups against the other, since they are bound by special obliga
tions to both. Apart from the support which the Hashimites gave to the allied
cause during the Great War, King Feisal and the Amir Abdullah have in the past
shown themselves to be well-disposed towards His Majesty’s Government. It is
not necessary to enter into details, but two recent cases in which the Amir

About this item


The file contains the Foreign Office confidential prints of the Arabia Series for the years 1933 to 1938. It includes correspondence, memoranda, and extracts from newspapers. The correspondence is principally between the British Legation in Jedda and the Foreign Office. Other correspondents include British diplomatic, political, and military offices, foreign diplomats, heads of state, tribal leaders, corporations, and individuals in the Middle East region.

Each annual series is composed of several numbered serials that are often connected to a particular subject. The file covers many subjects related to the affairs of Saudi Arabia.

Included in the file are the following:

  • a memorandum on Arab Unity produced by the Foreign Office dated 12 June 1933 (author unknown), folios 11-13;
  • a memorandum on petroleum in Arabia produced by the Petroleum Department dated 5 August 1933 (author unknown), folios 23-26;
  • a record of interviews with Ibn Sa‘ūd, King of Saudi Arabia, conducted by Reader Bullard and George William Rendel between 20 and 22 March 1937;
  • a memorandum on Yemen by Captain B W Seager, the Frontier Officer, dated 20 July 1937;
  • several records of proceedings of ships on patrol in the Red Sea, including that of HMS Penzance , Hastings , Colombo , Bideford , and Londonderry .

Folios 213-15 are internal office notes.

Extent and format
1 file (214 folios)

The file is arranged chronologically.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the main foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the front cover with 1 and terminates at the back cover with 217; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. An additional foliation sequence is also present in parallel between ff 2-215; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled, and are located in the same position as the main sequence.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎11r] (21/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 24 September 2019]

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