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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎187v] (374/434)

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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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Enclosure in Colonial Office covering letter No. P. Z. 6256/37, dated the
21 st September 1937.
Received on hth October 1937 with Political Secretary's letter No. 38, dated the
23rd September 1937.
Letter from Governor’s Office, Aden, to Secretary of State for
Colonies, London, dated the 18th August 1937.
\\ ith reference to my secret despatch of May 28th last regarding Italian
acti\ ities in the \ emen and connected matter, I have the honour to transmit
herewith a copy of a memorandum which has been prepared by Captain B.
W. Seager, the Frontier Officer, who returned to Aden from San’a on August
6 th last after a month’s stay in the Yemen.
Enclosure to S. No. (55).
Memorandum by Captain B. W. Seager, the Frontier Officer, dated
the 20th July 1937.
During my stay in San’a this month I find that I have not collected very
much fresh data to amplify my reports submitted towards the end of 1936.
The following represents the results of my observations and the information
imparted to me by the various personalities I have met in this town and on
my way to and from the Yemen.
2 . General.—The question of the succession to the Imamate still interests
all classes. The Crown Prince’s stock is rising and I begin to have very little
doubt that he wiil succeed his father in the first instance. Apart from theWazirs,
he seems to fear the rivalry of his brother Ali most of all. The latter is still in
prison and will remain there if the Crown Prince has his way though he w'ould
prefer to see him dead. It is reliably reported that an attempt was actually
made to poison him recently. Doctor Petrie was called in to attend him
and told me that he had treated him for dysentery in the first instance but
that he reacted too early to this treatment which led him to believe that his
internal disorders were not due to disease but probably to poison. He is
kept shackled and in chains and although permission was sought to get these
removed while he was ill, the King would not hear of it. I have met Ali
twice in the past. He is a pleasant young man and popular with all. He
is said to have a following who would risk a lot to get him out of prison but
1 fancy he will be lucky to emerge alive unless the Crown Prince has his
wings clipped.
3. The Crown Prince has mended his ways slightly but his natural indo~
lence coupled with his extreme harshness and cruelty still make him an un
popular figure.^ He is greatly feared and this may stand him in good stead
after his father s death as the electoral body will probably prefer to nominate
him rather than incur his wrath.
4. I believe he thinks he is cutting a fine figure in the public eye and
there is no doubt that he tries to stir himself into greater activity ; but in
mentality he combines the graces of an impulsive blundering with the
vindictiveness and unreasonable cruelty of an oriental despot of the good old
days. Decently, for instance, he imprisoned a soldier for desertion and
ordered that he was to die of starvation. At the end of his tether this un
fortunate wretch managed to shoot himself with a rifle belonging to one of
the sentries. In any other country in the world the Crowm Prince would
have been torn limb from limb years ago, but here in San’a we live in the
year 1200.
5. I was unfortunately unable to see him on my present visit as he was
suffering with stomachic pains probably due to over indulgence.

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' [‎187v] (374/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 26 February 2020]

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