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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎84v] (168/434)

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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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informed me in the course of conversation yesterday that his Government now
proposed to raise their mission in Saudi Arabia to the status of a Legation. Budget
ary provision had been made, and he expected the change to date from the 1st
January next. He stated, in answer to my enquiry, that the head of the post would
hold the rank of Minister, and that he would remain on in that capacity. On my
congratulating him, he explained that although he understood privately that his
appointment had been contemplated by his Ministry in any case, yet Fuad Bey
Hamza had interested himself with the French Government to secure his selection.
The elevation of the French representation here, and the appointment of M. Maigret,
mav well have been, although the latter did not say so, amongst the questions dis
cussed with the French Government by Fuad Bey Hamza during his recent visit to
2 . M. Maigret, who, as is his wont, has remained virtually invisible during
the summer, is again becoming locomotive, as he proposes to leave Jedda within
a few days for a three weeks’ visit to the Yemen. Upon his return from Sana, he
hopes, before the Haj, to pay a brief visit to Syria to meet the High Commissioner
3 . I am sending copies of this despatch to His Majesty s Chief Commissioner at
Aden and His Majesty’s consul-general at Beirut.
(Received on 16th February 1935 with Political Secretary's letter No. 6, dated 31st
January 1935.)
Enclosure in Foreign Office covering letter, dated the 24th January 1935.
Letter from His Majesty’s Charge d’affaires, Jedda, to the Foreign Office,
No. 370, dated the 11th December 1934.
Mr. Calvert to Sir John Simon .— {Received December 31.)
I have the honour to refer to my despatch No. 351 of the 5th Decern bei
1933 [Serial No. (6) in F. No. 17-N./34], in which I ventured to submit a short
review of the general financial situation in this country. I a gain propose to attempt,
with the modest material available in a country where statistics of any value are
unknown, an appreciation of the general financial and economic condition of Saudi
Arabia at the present time.
2 . Since the despatch under reference was written, the intervening months
have witnessed little real alleviation of the financial difficulties with which Ibn Sand
was then findiug himself increasingly confronted. The principal dram on his
resources, due to the long-drawn struggle with the Yemen, the necessity of pro
viding for an army in the field and at the same time of cementing the loyalty
of tribal leaders in Nejd by subsidies and supplies in kind, can scarcely have di
minished until the operations came to a successful conclusion and the troops
returned to their own country during July and August. Even then demobilisation
involved the grant of gratuities in rials and in kind to each individual soldier, a
process which began at Taif upon the immediate return of the troops and continued
at Riyadh until mid-November. Mr. Philby estimates the cost to Ibn Saud of these
gratuities alone to be in the neighbourhood of £100,000 gold. Thus the whole
period under review has been one of abnormal military expenditure, in prosecuting
the war and, at its conclusion, in paying in hard cash a handsome insurance pre
mium against tribal discontent at a lootless victory.
3 . It may not unnaturally be asked where are the resources upon which the
King could draw so liberally. Mr. Philby is convinced that the explanation lies in
the receipt of a war indemnity from the Imam of the Yemen. I am not alone
in considering this view difficult to accept, and incline to the belief that the King
has found himself compelled, in order to content his returning soldiery, to make
serious inroads upon the Royal Treasury, a reservoir of unknown dimensions.
4 . That the Saudi Exchequer could have proved of much assistance can hardly
be expected, even in the resourceful hands of the Minister of finance. Little addi
tional taxation, except in the almost negligible form of a stamp duty, was imposed
and in spite of certain reports to the contrary, no resort was made, as far as can be
ascertained, to the exaction of forced loans.

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' [‎84v] (168/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 29 February 2020]

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