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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎103v] (206/434)

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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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5. The Mahd-adh-Dhahab gold mine, which is situated at 24° 15' N.,
and 41° 10' E. at a height of 3,550 feet above sea level, is said to have been
worked by Hanm-ar-Rashid and perhaps even earlier in the times of the
Jahilfya. The extensive workings and the large area covered by ruined build
ings show that a great number of workmen were employed in those times.
Mr. Twitchell is now seeking to prove that the workings were not exhausted
of their gold, but were abandoned either through the lack of engineering
equipment and the knowledge how to mine deeper, or through the failure
of the water-supply or from political reasons.
6. Mr. Twitcheli has been working at this mine himself and says he
is very gratified with the results so far obtained in the mining of gold.
There are, I believe, also subsidiary metals. He foreshadowed early
developments and hoped to start diamond drilling, the machinery for
which was on its way. Mr. Twitchell is, however, faced with many pro
blems. I am not competent to judge the scheme from a technical mining
point of view, but engineering problems may well be small compared with
other factors such as the supply of water and communications with Medina
and the coast.
7. Mr. Twitchell confessed to me in conversation that the water
supply was indeed a problem and said it might be necessary to sink a well.
At present water is found in the surrounding districts at Maden (3 kilom.),
Jiraisiya (10 kilom.), and Suwaijiya (50 kilom.), while at the mine itself
Mr. Twitchell has discovered a shaft containing water, estimated at about
7,000 gallons, which he intends to reserve for use in connexion with the
diamond drilling.
8. With his usual energy and with Mr. van de Poll’s local knowledge
in support, Mr. Twitcheil has set to work to solve the problem of communi
cations. Mahd-adh-Dhahab lies, as the crow flies, some 100 miles from
Medina and 240 from Jedda. The original plan was to use Yanbu as a
base, being only 200 miles from the mine, but during these four months
the road has been found very difficult. Non-Moslems have to leave the
beaten track from Yanbu to Medina and circle the forbidden area to the
north, making the road distance about 315 miles, and mostly over abomi
nable ground of Harat lava, where in the winter the trucks were once
or twice held up by rain floods. This combined with the abandonment
of the workings at Yanbu-an-Nakhl have induced the syndicate to consider
the possibility of a road from Jedda, which will be a little longer than the
Yanbu road, and which would give the advantages of quicker external
communication through the larger port. They are accordingly now occu
pied in prospecting three alternate routes:—
(1) Jedda-Asfan-A1 Birka-Mahd-adh-Dhahab.
(2) Jedda-Rabigh-Madh-adh-Dhahab.
(3) A route between these two.
None of these routes is at all practical at the moment; to quote Mr. van de
Poll, who made a preliminary prospecting journey through to the mine on
the Rabigh route, he only went forward because he knew he could not go
back. It remains to be seen which, if any, of these three routes are chosen.
9. Well sinking, road making and the provision of food and medical
treatment in the middle of unknown desert can only be a costly affair; it
argues a wealth of optimism in the promoters in the possibilities of the
10. I am sending copies of this despatch to the Department of Over
seas Trade and to the High Commissioner for Transjordan at Jerusalem*

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' [‎103v] (206/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 18 February 2020]

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