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Coll 5/20 ‘Air Route to India – Arab Coast Secn: Negotiations with Trucial Sheikhs’ [‎150v] (311/1290)

The record is made up of 1 file (636 folios). It was created in 17 Feb 1932-6 May 1940. It was written in English, Arabic 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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• P. 4575/27, not printed ; but see P.G. 13, page 89, paras. 14 and 15.
&
3. History will, I think, show few societies which have not passed through the
stage of the assumption of power by murder. Ihat it is inhuman everyone will
admit, but there are many things going on on the Arab coast that are much more
inhuman, and the murder of a Shaikh is only a symptom of a primitive state of affairs
from which development must be gradual and which cannot be altered by the mere
suppression of that symptom. Though there may be possibly some sympathy for the
first Shaikh, it is difficult to feel any for his successors in the blood-stained line.
They know exactly the contract they are taking on.
As a matter of policy the results of interference in successions are very clearly set
forth in para. 3 of Despatch No. 13 of 1927, from the Government of India to the
Secretary of State for India.'"
If a policy of interference with the will of the people and of bolstering up weak
Shaikhs is to be adopted, the only corollary is practical annexation. Arabia is by no
means exempt from the changed conditions of thought throughout the world, and the
ouly hope of improvement seems to lie in the development along the Arab coast of
better appreciation of the sanctity of human life and the advantages of social stability.
So long as these violent changes do not affect the lives and security of British
subjects, I fail to see the necessity of viewing them too strictly from the point of view
of an alien school of thought.
4. As regards the wider question of our general policy on the Arabian side, I feel
that with the short period of my tenure here and the small opportunity I have had,
owing to difficulties of transport, of studying on the spot the problems existing there,
any views I express can only be of value as the result of the application of a perfectly
fresh outlook on conditions entirely novel to an experience of administration under
conditions in many ways similar, gained on the Indo-Afghan frontier.
Such experience as I have obtained of our dealings with the Trucial Chiefs leads
me to think that possibly both interference and non-interference are carried in some
matters to a greater degree than is consistent with our interests, and that there is a
complete absence of real political touch. The political duties on the Trucial Coast The historic term used by the British to refer to the Gulf coast of Trucial Oman, now called United Arab Emirates.
are performed by the Residency A diplomatic office of the British Government established in the provinces and regions considered part of, or under the influence of, British India. Agent, himself on Arab, and as such liable to
Arab intrigues and partisanship. He lives at Shargah, some 8 miles from Dabai,
wheie the mail steamer calls once a fortnight. 4 elegraphic communication can
only be made through Henjam by special sailing arrangements in case of great
urgency. Ihe hesident can only pay occasional visits and can only have a very
partial knowledge of what is really going on. In view of the importance of this
portion of the coast, with possibilities of Wahabi aggression and the prospect of
opening up an air service, it seems a matter for argument whether the time has
not now come to post at Dabai a full-time Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. and to instal there
eegiap nc or wireless communication. Ihe Shaikhs are in general well disposed,
and as life is mainly maritime there is always present in the Navy an efficacious and
prompt weapon to deal with any recalcitrance.
* w ith a small but seaworthy launch in which he could
^ 1S1 | 1( ^ )U y in g laikhdoms seems to be the only means by which we can maintain
ea P° 1 lca _ °nc with the I racial Coast and efficiently arrange and maintain a
satisfactory air service on the Arab littoral.
i l/ ie C ? se similar as legaids Qatar, and it seems to be a matter for consideration
! rnffirTfip ° Se r i anC m ? re defi ;T ^Ggements should not be made with this Shaikhdom
undei the political advice of the Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. at Bahrain.
s‘itiqf?ptm-v°r! e c J iail ^ e ma ^ e on the lines above lean see little prospect of any
satisfactory ci safe arrangement for aerial flight on the Arab littoral.
tribes ^ n lS a PP aren t^y dealt satisfactorily with his recalcitrant Najd
but in anvTT tlf T ^ 6 I 8 ' 6 a “T 6 liberal view ° r fii ghts over the Hasa coast,
dotn however .71 chs, y, lce between Kuwait and Bahrain is not great. Further
oosition is marie 10 "n°r c a PP ei J r to be an ever recurring risk of trouble unless the
position is made more definite and consolidated.
apDear^to^b^aTnnf'V^n' 11 ' 1 ! 01 ^ <doast and tlie lar ger Shaikhdoms, there would
formailv Ld unhHeTv I 6 ” 1 ' 1 " .A 6111 ' 11 ? ° f doubt ™ to bow far the policy which is
now advisable to revie en V n ^ la 18 bemg- actually carried out and whether it is not
now advisable to tevtew that policy with regard to actual conditions and needs.

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Content

The file is largely made up of correspondence, with occasional internal 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. notes, and records of inter-departmental meetings. The subject matter is the establishment of an aerodrome on the Trucial Coast The historic term used by the British to refer to the Gulf coast of Trucial Oman, now called United Arab Emirates. to facilitate the transfer of Imperial Airways' Europe-India route from Southern Persia to the Arabian Coast. There is some material related to the selection of a suitable site. However, much of the file is concerned with negotiations with Shaikh Sultan bin Saqar, Ruler of Sharjah; Sharjah was selected by British officials as the most promising site for a landing ground. The file therefore contains a number of reports on the political situation at Sharjah, the progress of negotiations, and discussion over terms and conditions. A copy of the final agreement can be found on folios 225-228.

The agreement with the Shaikh of Sharjah provided for the construction of a rest house to be owned by the Shaikh but rented by Imperial Airways. The file therefore includes discussion relating to arrangements for the financing and construction of the rest house. There is also a detailed consideration of the measures needed to ensure its security, and measures to be taken by British forces in the event of an attack on the facility: see folios 18-27 for a copy of the Sharjah Defence Scheme .

The file also contains discussion between British officials over their response to the following two proposals submitted by the Government of the Netherlands: a proposal for Anglo-Dutch-French co-operative partnership in approaching civil aviation matters linking Europe and the Far East, with a particular view to negotiations with Persia; and a request for access to the Arab Coast air route.

In addition to the immediate response to the Netherlands Government, the file includes discussion related to how British policy over the Trucial Coast The historic term used by the British to refer to the Gulf coast of Trucial Oman, now called United Arab Emirates. should develop in response to developments in civil aviation.

Also contained within the file are a number of papers circulated by the Committee of Imperial Defence's Standing Official Sub-committee for Questions Concerning the Middle East. These papers relate to a proposal from Imperial Airways to use landplanes along the Arabian Coast route instead of flying boats; the file contains extensive technical comparisons between the ‘Hannibal’ four engine landplane (the Handley Page H.P.42) and three engine ‘Calcutta’ flying boat (the Short S.8).

There is a limited amount of discussion, towards to front of the correspondence, over the state of British negotiations with Persia. However, this is not the focus of the file.

A couple of letters from the Government of the Netherlands are in French (see folios 296-301) and the final agreement with the Shaikh of Sharjah (folios 225-228) is in both English and Arabic. The vast majority of the file is in English.

The main correspondents are as follows: the Political Resident A senior ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul General) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Residency. in the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. (Hugh Vincent Biscoe, and later Trenchard Craven William Fowle), the Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. at Kuwait (Harold Richard Patrick Dickson), and the Senior Naval Officer in the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. . It also includes correspondence with officials of the following governmental departments: the Admiralty, the Air Ministry, the Foreign Office, the 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 the Foreign and Political Department of the Government of India.

Most of the material in the file covers the period 1932 to 1935. Only a single letter, dated 31 March 1940, falls outside this range.

The file includes a divider which gives a list of correspondence references contained in the file by year. This is placed at the back of the correspondence.

Extent and format
1 file (636 folios)
Arrangement

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the rear to the front of the file.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the main foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the first folio with 1 and terminates at the last folio with 637; 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, which is also circled, has been superseded and therefore crossed out.

The foliation sequence does not include the front and back covers, nor does it include the two leading and ending flyleaves.

Written in
English, Arabic and French in Latin and Arabic script
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Coll 5/20 ‘Air Route to India – Arab Coast Secn: Negotiations with Trucial Sheikhs’ [‎150v] (311/1290), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/1966, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100044823449.0x000070> [accessed 13 November 2019]

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