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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎148v] (296/434)

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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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would piovide some money out of general revenues. Since there is a consi
derable loss on the Palestine and Trans-Jordan sections, those Govern
ments could reasonably say that they have already done their share in res
pect of the Railway by keeping the line open in their own territories and
incurring a loss in so doing. There seems to be little likelihood of either
Palestine, Syria or Trans-Jordan contributing anything towards the
scheme, save that Trans-Jordan might undertake some responsibility in
respect of the small section in its own territory, if the whole scheme were
It seems to be equally unlikely that the Saudi Government will find
the money at the present time. There appears to be no chance that the
line will be a paying proposition, and one can hardly see the Saudi Gov
ernment, which is notoriously short of money, providing £150,000 on which
they would get no return.
The unattractive commercial possibilities in turn seem to make it most
unlikely that any private syndicate would undertake the work.
It therefore appears that the only possible way of raising the money is
that His Majesty’s Government should provide it. They certainly could
not justifiably provide it on the grounds of the scheme’s commercial attrac- ^
tions, but it is conceivable that it might be possible to justify the expendi
ture on political grounds. The Railway was destroyed during the Great
War and it might be argued that, having regard to the history of its
destruction and to its general interest to the Moslem world, and as a
gesture to the Moslem world, His Majesty’s Government should undertake
to repair it. Such a gesture might have considerable advantages at the
present time. It would show the Arabs that we are very much interested
in their welfare and it might be a means of counteracting the spread of
Italian influence in that area.
It may finally be worth consideration, whether the Railway could be
regarded as of possible strategic value to His Majesty’s Government. In
the event of a war with Italy, if Saudi Arabia threw in their lot with us,
it might conceivably be a link in an alternative route to the Suez Canal.
Do you think in the circumstances that there is a case on general political
grounds for His Majesty’s Government undertaking to pay the cost of re
pairing the Railway? If you think that there is a case, the next step
would presumably be to bring the Treasury into consultation on the
matter. If, on the other hand, you consider that there is no case, it is
probably a waste of time to pursue the matter further as it seems extremely
unlikely that any other source will assist to a sufficient extent to enable the
money to be raised. The Railway has remained derelict for the last fifteen
years without causing any great disturbance in the Moslem world and
presumably it can remain derelict for a further period without any un
toward results. As time goes on, the need for the Railway will probably
become steadily less, since pilgrims will tend to go to Mecca more and more
by motor routes. ^
Copies of this letter and the enclosure are being sent to the War Office,
Air Ministry, 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. , and Treasury.
Letter from the High Commissioner for Palestine to the Colonial
Office, No. T. C./69/35, dated 12th May 1936.
1 have the honour to refer to your Confidential despatch of the lOtfi
d anuary, 1936, regarding the conference held at Haifa in October, 1935,
on the subject of the reconditioning of the Hejaz Railway.
2 Of the conclusions reached by the conference on the five points which
formed the agenda, I have no comment to make on Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5, save
to endorse the recommendations of the conference.
3. As regards the third point, namely the manner in which the
expenses necessary for the reconditioning of the line are to be met, I would
observe that I am unable to endorse the recommendation of the Saudi re
presentative, Fuad Bey Hamza, that the reconditioning of the damaged

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' [‎148v] (296/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 19 February 2020]

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