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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎15r] (29/434)

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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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by the Secretary of State for India to say that he suggests that it might he prefer
able to inform the Sultan “ that the contents of his letter are noted ” rather than
“ that the election has been noted ”, and to omit the word “ formal ” before “ re
cognition ” in informing him that the recognition of his successor must be deferred
until the latter’s actual accession to the Sultanate. Otherwise Secretary Sir
Samuel Hoare agrees with the proposal of the Secretary of State for the Colonies to
approve the course of action suggested in paragraph 13 of the despatch from the
Resident at Aden enclosed with your letter.
2. A copy of this letter is being sent to the Foreign Office and Air Ministry.
. ,, ( 28 )
{Received on 15th July 1933, with Political Secretary's letter No. 26, dated 29th June
Enclosure in Foreign Office covering letter No. E. 2990/2990/25, dated 19th
June 1933.
Letter from His Majesty’s Minister, Jedda, to the Foreign Office, No. 139-
(1328/398/2), dated the 15th May 1933.
In paragraph 18 of the Jedda Report for January to March 1932 (F. 139-N./32),
Mr. Hope Gill mentioned a Sa’udi Commercial Code, the serial publication of which
had been completed during that period. On my return to Jedda at the end of
May 1 found awaiting me a portly volume containing a rough manuscript transla
tion of this enormous document, which took up much space in successive numbers of
the Umm-al-Qura newspaper from August 7th, 1931 to February 26th, 1932 inclusive.
The vicissitudes of the remainder of the year made it impossible for me to give
attention to it. Now that the storms of rebellion had died down, I owe it to the
industry of my translators, if for no other reason, to give some brief account of so
considerable an addition to the modern legislation of this country. It will be
very brief indeed, as the code is a mere white elephant at present. It would be
useless labour to check the translation, to have it typed and to study it closely.
2. The code is not one which the ordinary religious courts of this country
would ever dream of applying. It is designed solely for the purpose of tribunals
of the type known as Majlis-at-Tujar or Council of Merchants. Only one such
court exists at present. It has its being in Jedda but I understand that its juris
diction in commercial cases is supposed to extend to Mecca. So far as I know
it is a very inept body but one seldom hears it mentioned at all, never, in my ex
perience, in connexion with any important commercial suit.
3. The code provided for the use of this non-professional tribunal consists
of four parts. Part I (Articles 1 to 149) deals with commerce on land and contains
chapters dealing with the usual matters, including companies, agency An office of the British Government and, earlier, of the East India Company. , bills of
exchange and insolvency. Part II (Articles 150 to 431) deals with maritime
commerce and comprises, among others, chapters on the ownership of ships, seamen,
bills of lading, freight and charter-party, passages, hypothecation of ships, etc.,
marine insurance and average. Part III (Articles 432 to 533) is devoted to the
organisation and procedure of the Majlis-at-Tujar. Part IV (Articles 534 to 622)
contains schedules of fees for various proceedings. Article 623 makes the code
operative from the date of publication, presumably the date of the last instalment,
as the code is not otherwise dated. The last Article, 624, charges the Viceroy
with the execution of its provisions, a clause which indicates that, even in principle,
the code was intended only to apply to the Hejaz, which at the time had not yet
been merged in a unified Sa’udi Arabia.
4. I le^rn from Fuad Bey Hamza, who was probably the principal author
of the code, that it was based mainly on the old Ottoman codes (see Young,
Corps de Droit Ottoman, Volume VII, page 55 ff.). So far as I can judge from a
hurried glance I should say that in the case of Parts I and III the adaptation
had been done very freely, whereas Part II seems to follow the Ottoman Code
of Maritime Commerce more closely. I confess, however, that I have had no
time to study the Sa’udi text in detail.
5. I am sending a copy of this despatch to the Department of Overseas Trade.

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' [‎15r] (29/434), 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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