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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎168v] (336/434)

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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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m Jedda. The object of the journey was purely scientific, and he had, in
fact, collected a great mass of information which he hoped would be of use to
science, and had established the position of over a hundred points. Through
out the expedition the only connexion he had had with Ibn Saud was that,
as a matter of courtesy, whenever he was within reach of a Saudi telegraph
station he sent a telegram to the King reporting the date of arrival and the
probable date of departure.
2. To show that the journey had originally no concern with politics, he
could state that he had written all he had intended to say about the Hadhra-
maut before he started back from Shibam, i.e., before the breakdown of one
of his cars compelled him to go to Mukalla to try to get a new back-axle.
The chapter was colourless, in spite of the fact that he had “ seen a lot of
things ” about which he might have written. But after the reception he
received when he applied to the Resident at Aden for assistance he had changed
his mind. Having been attacked, he proposed to defend himself, and he
would add chapters to his forthcoming book which would tell the world the
facts about the Aden Protectorate. He was prepared to give His Majesty’s
Minister all these facts, but he also proposed to give them to the Saudi Gov
3. The criticism directed against his visit to Shabwa was entirely un
justified. His journey was on all fours with that of Bertram Thomas across
the Rub-al-Khali. He was quite right in claiming that, apart from the
Hadhramaut, his journey lay in unexplored, undemarcated territory. To
claim Shabwa and those parts for the Aden Protectorate was fantastic, for no
protection was afforded. Nor could the Aden authorities claim the virtue of
leaving the people thereabouts to manage their own affairs, for they bombed
them. The Aden attitude towards Shabwa was exactly like that of the
Italians towards WaJwal at the beginning of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute,
and British policy was no more honest than that of Italy had been. The
British were trying to expand at the expense of the Arabs.
4. His policy remained what it had always been, viz., to try to obtain for
the Arabs what they were promised early in the Great War. He had chal
lenged His Majesty’s Government to publish the promises made then (the
McMahon correspondence), but with their habitual cowardice they had re
fused. There were plenty of copies in Arabic to be had, but the English
correspondence ought to be published. He would tell His Majesty’s Minister
a “ secret he used to possess copies of the correspondence in English,
given to him by T. E. Lawrence, but they were stolen from him by a clerk
of his in Jedda.
5. He was interested to hear (for the first time) that the King of the
Yemen had protested to Ibn Sand, alleging that the expedition had entered
Yemen territory at Jauf and Marib. He wondered how the King had heard
about it. In point of fact, he had not gone to Marib, but had taken photo
graphs and bearings from a height from which it was visible. (Mr. Philby
evaded, or at least did not answer, the question whether the height in question
was in Yemen territory.)
6 . No, it was not quite correct to say that he was asking for more for
Ibn Saud than Ibn Saud was asking for himself, though it was near the truth.
What he wanted was the establishment of the promised Arab independence
in the Arab Peninsula and the elimination of any foreign rule which conflicted
with the promises.
Mr. Philby claimed to know all about the British and Saudi proposals for
the southern frontier of Saudi Arabia and to have the two lines marked on
maps in his possession. When His Majesty’s Minister said that in that case
he must have known that Shabwa lay well to the south of the proposed Saudi
line, he said that the position of Shabwa on the map was a long way out,
but he did not deny that Shabwa was even farther to the south than the map
shows, and therefore at a greater distance from the extreme limits claimed by
Ibn Saud than appeared from the map.

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' [‎168v] (336/434), 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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