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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎169v] (338/434)

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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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gone so far as to publish in the Saut-al-Hejaz newspaper an appeal to Moslems
written in ill-spelt English, and to advertise small boxes of dates for pilgrims
to take home as “ A Present from Medina Other objects for which subs
criptions are invited are the sacred well of Zamzam, the Waziriya water
scheme for Jedda, the First Aid Society, the Charitable Society, the Asylum
for Orphans and the Aged, and so on. The pilgrim guides are required to
press these schemes upon the attention of their pilgrims, and for the Aviation
Society the guides are under moral compulsion to buy books of 1 riyal tickets
proportioned to the number and supposed wealth of their pilgrims, and are
left to pass them on to the pilgrims if they can, or to bear the loss themselves.
Pilgrims have been subjected to pressure on behalf of these various schemes,
but no complaints have been received from British pilgrims. It is accepted
that a pilgrim should distribute what he can in charity while he is in the
Hejaz, and if there were no societies appealing for his money, it might go to
individual beneficiaries or be extorted under various pretexts by the guides.
3. It is easy to deride the thirst for money which underlies these appeals,
and the latest Jedda report contrasts the requests for charity with Ibn Saud’s
alleged expenditure of over £600 for walnuts and pistachio nuts for his last
hunting trip. But it is impossible not to feel some sympathy for him. His
personal expenditure is doubtless wasteful in some ways, and it seems hard
on a poor country to have to support a royal family, which includes twenty-
five princes and a corresponding number of princesses and queens, but there
is no reason to think that any economy that would be compatible with the
King’s position and oriental methods of accountancy would make a great
difference to the budget.
4. The word “ budget ” is only used by convention, for it is porbable that
the Saudi budget exists largely in the head of the able Nejdi, who is Ibn Saud’s
Minister of Finance. Income is irregular and incalculable, and expenditure
spasmodic. If the King wants money suddenly for some purpose the Minister
of Finance must produce it somehow, and there are demands from the Amirs
Saud and Faisal also to be met, and the simplest way to meet essential expen
diture is to leave for some future time the payment for services rendered or
goods supplied. All Saudi officials, except those who are in position to look
after themselves, are permanently in arrears with their pay for periods ex
tending at times to half a year. Many foreign chauffeurs, employed for the
State cars, have been glad to recover, before leaving, a third or a quarter
of arrears of pay extending back sometimes for two or three years. The
Soviet Legation are still trying, apparently with no hope of success, to recover
payment for oil products to the value of about £30,000, which they supplied
to the Saudi Government in 1930. A Polish firm supplied a considerable
quantity of arms to the Saudi Government m 1930, and it is believed that the
efforts they made to recover the second half of the price were not successful.
The difficulties which have beset our attempt to recover the cost of arms
supplied by the Government of India at the time of the Nejd rebellion in
1929, are only too well known to His Majesty’s Government. Although con
siderable sums have been collected from pilgrims during the last two months,
there are the usual signs of financial stringency. The Legation even had
to appeal to the good offices of the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for
payment of the balance due to the Eastern Telegraph Company (Limited)
for the period ending the 31st January ; the Saudi Government paid £1,000
and left over £2,000 outstanding.
5. The main difficulty is that in spite of his policy of economic develop
ment Ibn Saud is still dependent almost entirely, either directly or indirectly,
on the pilgrimage as a source of revenue. It is nearly a year now since there
seemed to be ground for hope that oil would shortly be discovered in Hasa
in commercial quantities, but this hope has not been fulfilled, though it is
true that it has not been abandoned. The Saudi Arabian Mining Syndicate
have discovered a gold mine, or rediscovered an old one, with gold in what
would ordinarily be paying quantities, but the water which would make it
possible to work the mine on an economic basis has not yet been found.
The Petroleum Development (Western Arabia), (Limited), which has begun
to prospect for oil along the coastal belt of the Red Sea has no good news to

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' [‎169v] (338/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 22 February 2020]

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