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Coll 6/10(2) 'Saudi-Arabian Affairs: Financial and Internal situation' [‎5v] (10/54)

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The record is made up of 1 file (25 folios). It was created in 23 Apr 1939-11 Jan 1940. It was written in English. 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 Documents collected in a private capacity. .

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I
for the Saudi Government to develop the new land more slowly with their own
people^ but Ibn Saud will have been flattered to find the tide of migration flowing
back from the town to the desert.
4. Over a year ago I suggested that the gradual replacement of income
from the pilgrimage by oil royalties, paid direct into a bank abroad by a foreign
company, as the main item in the State revenue, should increase the independence
of the crown, but this process has been interrupted by the war. The California
Arabian Standard Oil Company are confident that the Hasa oil-field is going to
be one of the most important in the world, and that it will not be long before
Ibn Saud receives from it much more than he ever received from pilgrims, but
the increase in the revenue from oil royalties, plus the lump sum received for the
new concession granted to the California Arabian Standard Oil Company this
year, has been more than offset by the Avar slump in the pilgrimage, and Ibn Saud
has just obtained from the California Arabian Standard Oil Company an advance
of a million dollars on account of future royalties. No one, except the King
and one or two others, know what the financial situation of Saudi Arabia
really is and, above all, whether there is a considerable reserve at home or abroad,
but the impression made on me is that the King’s cheerfulness about his finances
is due to his belief that the war will not last more than another six months or
so, and that, if the low figures of this pilgrimage should be repeated next year
and perhaps the year after, Ibn Saud might be in serious financial straits. The
Minister of Finance is said to have urged the King to have economies made in the
public departments, and to have proposed that the King should not come to Mecca
this season, but economise in transport and entertaining by staying at home.
There was little sign of economy when I was in Riyadh, but it is stated that the
King has, in fact, agreed to the division of all estimates into urgent and non
urgent and to have ordered the latter to be suspended.
5. It is unfortunate from the moral point of view that the new form of
revenue in this country is almost as demoralising as the old. The exploitation
of pilgrims is not an elevating means of livelihood, but it is also demoralising
to draw a large revenue from a natural product whose extraction depends entirely
upon the technical and organising skill of foreigners. But just as fate has given
Saudi Arabia a perfect monopoly in the possession of the shrine at
Mecca, so it has given them a share in the limited quantity of oil in the world,
and one cannot expect them to worry about its effect on their character. I am
told that the demoralising effect of easy oil money on the Saudis is already
apparent, in that whereas ten years ago the rent of 5,000 gold pounds was counted
out with the greatest care, to-day an expenditure of 50,000 gold pounds is con-
sidered nothing. But the effect is visible to any observer at Riyadh, where there
is a strong contrast between the poverty of the common people and the sprawling
waste and extravagance of the Royal households. The huge new palace, built
by the King himself without any proper plan, is typical of everything 1 . ’ It is
not an overstatement. There are the brothers and uncles and cousins, and the
Rashids, and the twenty-five or more princes and their unnumbered sisters, each
one the nucleus of a group of idle senmnts and slaves and expensive cars and
the men with wives and concubines in addition. And there is no education or
moral training or experience to keep a check on the indulgence in pleasure and
^ luxury. Except for the King himself and the two eldest sons (and perhaps
another son, Nasir, who, as the son of a slave mother, has been considered Ioav
enough m status to be governor of the town of Riyadh), not a single one of
the Royal personages does any work. None of the King’s sons have been educated
and only four of them have seen anything of the outsidp wnrlH wUa+ fiN
said that 2,000 or 3,000 people feed at the King’s expense, and this is probably
poned for years by the prolongation of the King’s life, but even during the

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Content

This file relates to the finances of the Saudi Arabian Government and to the political situation in Saudi Arabia generally. It consists partly of copies of correspondence between 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 The historical term used to describe the body of water between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. (Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Trenchard Craven William Fowle, succeeded by Major Charles Geoffrey Prior) and 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 (Hugh Weightman), and partly of copies of correspondence received by the Foreign Office from the British Minister at Jedda (Sir Reader William Bullard), which have been forwarded by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the Under-Secretary of State for India. Matters discussed in the correspondence include changes to the value of the Saudi riyal, Ibn Saud's [‘Abd al-‘Azīz bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Fayṣal Āl Sa‘ūd's] indebtedness to the Qusaibi [Āl Quṣaybī] family, and concerns held both by 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. and by 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. that members of the Qusaibi family could attempt to establish themselves as official representatives of Ibn Saud in Bahrain. The file also includes a short report from the British Minister at Jedda, which discusses the state of affairs in Saudi Arabia generally.

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 (25 folios)
Arrangement

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

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence for this description commences at the front cover with 1, and terminates at the inside back cover with 27; 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. A previous foliation sequence, which is present between ff 1-26 and is also circled, has been superseded and therefore crossed out.

Written in
English in Latin script
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Coll 6/10(2) 'Saudi-Arabian Affairs: Financial and Internal situation' [‎5v] (10/54), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2076, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100049242408.0x00000b> [accessed 26 February 2024]

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