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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎155v] (310/434)

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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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4 . I found that Mr. Philby had spared no pains to proclaim the merits
of Sa’udi Government at every opportunity and to assert how well the people
of the Hadhramaut would fare were they to come under the rule of Ibn Sa’ud.
Mr. Philby declared the country between the Western boundary of the Hadh
ramaut and N.ajran to be a ‘‘No man’s Land ” which would soon be taken
over by Ibn Sa’ud. This includes Shabwa and A1 ’Abr, of which Shabwa
(which is actually more to the South than shewn on existing maps) is well
inside the Protectorate both tribally and geographically, while A1 ’Abr (which
is on the main route from Najran to the Hadhramaut) is also well within
the violet line and is in the territory of the Ahl Sei’ar (Sir Bernard Reilly’s
Secret telegram No. 20 of 19th March 1936 and Mr. Ingram’s report—Chapters
I and XIX).
I have no reason to doubt the truth of the statements made to me which
were given by responsible and reliable persons.
5. Mr. Philby also spread abroad that Ibn Sa’ud “ intended to make a
road for motor traffic from Mecca to the Hadhramaut ”, as already reported.
I have not the opportunity in this despatch to comment on the advantages
of such a road being constructed. But were such a scheme to be considered
it would be a matter for His Majesty’s Government to discuss with the Sa’udi
Government, and for Mr. Philby to proclaim that Ibn Sa’ud “ intends ” ^
to make the road, as if the country immediately to the West of the Hadhra
maut was Sa’udi territory and not part of the Aden Protectorate, is
gross impertinence.
6 . I do not think that much attention was paid to Mr. Philby’s Sa’udi
propaganda by those who really count in the Hadhramaut and Qu’aiti terri
tory and possibly the visit of the Air Officer Commanding and myself with
five aircraft immediately after Mr. Philby’s visit counteracted to a certain
extent its effects. But there is always a faction in most communities who
are anti-Government and an easy prey for foreign intriguers and the
Hadhramaut is no exception, added to which there is an Irshadi element
which has for some years been trying to overthrow the influence of the Seiyids
of the Hadhramaut and to spread the tenets of the Wahabi faith. I, there
fore, take a serious view of the diffusion of any determined Sa’udi propaganda
in the Hadhramaut such as that in which Mr. Philby has recently been engaged.
7 . I am not in a position to give an opinion as to whether Mr. Philby’s
recent activities had the support of Ibn Sa’ud. Mr. Hope Gill, who has known
both for some years, thinks not. Possibly Mr. Philby’s apparent desire to
cover the whole"of Arabia in the course of his travels and to try to be the first
European to cross an unexplored route or to visit a town of historical interest
(in this case—Shabwa) may have furnished the real reason for his recent
journey, and that, being such an ardent admirer of Ibn Sa’ud, he could not
resist the temptation to proclaim aloud the virtues of his hero, but, in view
of the conversations now being conducted by His Majesty’s Government with
the Sa’udi Government over the boundaries of Sa’udi Arabia, and of Ibn
Saud’s tendency to claim more than His Majesty’s Government is willing to
cede it is quite likely that Mr. Philby’s intrigue may have had the unofficial,
if not the official, support of the King, and that it was financed by the latter
{vide last paragraph of Royal Air Force report enclosed).
In any case, as Mr. Philby is the protege of Ibn Sa ud, I assume that
His Majesty’s Government will take up this matter with the Sa’udi Govern-
-■rnent and address a strong protest.
8. Presumably Mr. Philby still calls himself an Englishman and I under
stand that he is in receipt of a pension from the Government of India. It is
all the more to be deplored, therefore, that he should deliberately work against
the interests of Great Britain.
9 I enclose copies of two recent reports—one from the Intelligence
branch of Air Headquarters (which is probably rather exaggerated as re
gards the paragraphs 4 and 5) and the other from His Highness the Sultan
of Shihr and Mukalla.

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' [‎155v] (310/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 24 February 2020]

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