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Coll 6/67(4) 'Boundaries of South Eastern Arabia and Qatar.' [‎83r] (165/843)

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The record is made up of 1 file (420 folios). It was created in 12 Nov 1935-27 Sep 1937. 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.

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7. I have redrawn above the familiar picture of Ibn Saud searching year
after year for normal sources of revenue, and thrown back time after time on the
most invidious, viz., levy of toll upon Moslems making the pilgrimage to the
shrine of Allah. It would not be surprising if this disposed him to class his
country with the “ have-nots.” And it happens that with the exception of the
Yemen, which he refrained from annexing in 1935, partly out of consideration for
pan-Arab feeling, but partly no doubt for fear of Italy, he sees around him on
the Arabian Peninsula more than one territory which he could absorb but for
His Majesty’s Government, and whose absorption would be to his economic
advantage. This does not apply to the south, for whatever political attraction
the Hadhramaut may have for him, it contains no obvious form of material wealth.
But on 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. the situation is different. There is one small sheikh in
possession of the fine natural harbour of Koweit and a pearl fishery, and in far too
favourable a position for smuggling into Saudi territory. Another sheikh so
small that Ibn Saud always refers to him by a familiar nickname, not only claims
the whole of the Qatar Peninsula, including a hill that Ibn Saud particularly
wants for himself, but has granted an oil concession like an independent
sovereign. Running down the coast are various insignificant people whose only
purpose in life seems to be to bar Ibn Saud from the sea, from any oil that may
be discovered there, and from any pickings that might be got out of Imperial
Airways. Finally, there is Bahrein, which used to belong to Ibn Saud’s
ancestors but now stands more or less on its own feet, and which, moreover, has
an oil well gushing away as if in mockery of the miserable seepings in the wells
which have been bored in Hasa, And in all these territories His Majesty’s
Government have “ interests ” which prevent their being absorbed, as much to
their own as to the general advantage, in Saudi iVrabia. Such is the picture
which Ibn Saud may be expected to paint to himself.
8. In these circumstances it is reasonable to suppose that although
Ibn Saud seems to have decided that on the whole His Majesty’s Government are
to be preferred to the Italians as friends, the recognition of our interests in
Arabia puts a great strain upon a monarch who is not only ambitious but probably
insolvent too. It might be argued that the poorer Ibn Saud is the less likely he
is to engage in a policy of adventure, but my own opinion is that on the whole a
more generous view is justified, viz., that anything that increases his legitimate
revenue is to be welcomed by His Majesty’s Government, and any expenditure
that might embarrass his finances is to be deprecated. To increase his revenue is
not in our power, for without giving pilgrims money, as the Italians have done
this year for propaganda purposes, we can hardly do more to facilitate the
accomplishment of the pilgrimage by British pilgrims than is done already. We
can, however, apply the second principle to any scheme which comes up for
consideration. In my despatch No. 20, dated the 10th February, I applied this
principle to the suggestion that His Majesty’s Government might perhaps help
in the reconstruction of the Saudi portion of the Hejaz Railway, and opposed it
chiefly on the ground that the railway would be a financial liability to Ibn Saud
and not an asset. If it could be shown that the railway would not be a burden
on Saudi finances, the proposal would, I think, deserve reconsideration. The
principle enters into the consideration of other questions affecting the relations
of His Majesty’s Government with Saudi Arabia, but it is unnecessary to go into
details here.
I have, &c.
R. W. BULLARD

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Content

This file primarily concerns British policy regarding the eastern and south-eastern boundaries of Saudi Arabia, specifically those bordering Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Muscat (i.e. the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman).

Much of the correspondence relates to British concerns that the boundaries should be demarcated prior to the commencement of any oil prospecting in the area. The file's principal correspondents are the following: His Majesty's Minister at Jedda (Sir Andrew Ryan, succeeded by Sir Reader William Bullard); 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. (Lieutenant-Colonel 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. , Bahrain (Lieutenant-Colonel Percy Gordon Loch); 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. , Muscat (Major Ralph Ponsonby Watts); the Secretary of State for the Colonies; the Secretary of State for India; the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; officials of the Foreign Office, the Colonial 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 Admiralty.

Matters discussed in the correspondence include the following:

  • Whether the British should press King Ibn Saud [‘Abd al-‘Azīz bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Fayṣal Āl Sa‘ūd] for a settlement of the outstanding questions relating to the aforementioned boundaries.
  • Sir Andrew Ryan's meeting with Ibn Saud and the Deputy Minister for Saudi Foreign Affairs, Fuad Bey Hamza, in Riyadh, in November 1935.
  • The disputed territories of Jebel Naksh [Khashm an Nakhsh, Qatar] and Khor-al-Odeid [Khawr al ‘Udayd].
  • Whether or not a territorial agreement between Ibn Saud and Qatar was concluded prior to the Anglo-Qatar Treaty of 1916.
  • The intentions of Petroleum Concessions Limited regarding the development of its oil concession in Qatar.
  • The line proposed by the British for the boundary between Saudi Arabia and the Aden Protectorate.
  • The Kuwait blockade.
  • Leading personalities in Oman.
  • Details of Harry St John Bridger Philby's expedition to Shabwa [Shabwah, Yemen].
  • Four meetings held between Sir Reader Bullard, George Rendel (Head of the Foreign Office's Eastern Department), and Ibn Saud, in Jedda, 20-22 March 1937.

Also included are the following:

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 (folio 2).

Extent and format
1 file (420 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 (used for referencing) commences at the inside front cover with 1, and terminates at the last folio with 421; 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 also circled, has been superseded and therefore crossed out.

Written in
English in Latin script
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Coll 6/67(4) 'Boundaries of South Eastern Arabia and Qatar.' [‎83r] (165/843), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2137, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100049619515.0x0000a8> [accessed 23 October 2019]

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