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Coll 6/67(4) 'Boundaries of South Eastern Arabia and Qatar.' [‎106r] (211/843)

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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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15. We then considered the next section of the frontier, i.e., from the point
south-west of the Sabkhat Matti where it turns east, to the point where it joins
the frontier of Muscat and Oman. I said that in regard to this sector the situation
seemed to me rather more hopeful. In their note of the 3rd April, 1935, the Saudi
Government had agreed to the Sabkhat Matti and the line of wells described on
the latest edition of Hunter’s map as the Qufa Liwa remaining to Abu Dhabi.
All we wanted to be sure of was that the wells of Sufuk, which according to our
information lay on the caravan route from Abu Dhabi to Doha, should remain,
together with the caravan route itself, within Abu Dhabi territory. The
discrepancy between our line and the Saudi line in this area, which was in any
case slight, was due to Sufuk being marked where it was on Hunter s map. But
there was some reason to believe that this marking was inaccurate, and that
Sufuk wells and the caravan route really lay rather nearer to the coast. I had
hoped to be in possession of accurate information on this point in time to clear up
the matter with Sheikh Yusuf Yasin at once. Unfortunately, we had not been
able to find the wells during our flight, and I had just learnt that it would be
impossible for Colonel Loch to complete the further investigation he had at once
embarked upon before well on in the next week. The point ought not, however, to
lead to serious difficulty, since we were really agreed on the main principles
16. Sheikh Yusuf said that Sufuk was a Murra well. I replied that we
could not accept these progressive claims for the Murra tribe. We had agreed
that Banaiyan was a Murra well and given up Abu Dhabi’s claim to it in con
sequence. But all our information showed that the normal Murra dira ended well
to the south-west of Sufuk wherever it was. If the Saudi Government always
claimed as a Murra well the next well beyond the last well we had conceded, there
would be no reason why they should not eventualy claim Muscat town. I made
as much play as I could of our concession at Banaiyan, in order to show how ready
we had been to concede a point whenever careful enquiry showed that the facts
were against us. But this was not so now.
17. After a good deal of further discussion in which the historical and legal
aspects of the question were touched upon, only to be set aside in favour of a
more practical solution on the basis of the situation now existing, Sir Reader
Bullard explained that he had at first expressed the view that it would be l)est to
leave discussions on this part of the frontier in abeyance for the present. But
the investigation I had made into the matter had led him to change his mind, and
he now agreed that it would be far better to get the matter settled and disposed of
as quickly as possible.
18. I suggested that, although we had at first proposed that the frontier
question should be dealt with as a whole, we were now more likely to make
progress if we took the various sectors of the frontier one by one. The sector
between Saudi Arabia and Muscat involved consultation with the Sultan of
Muscat, which was not yet completed and would involve further loss of time. The
sector between Saudi Arabia and the Hadhramaut area of the Aden Protectorate
was still being reinvestigated by the Aden authorities, and I could not yet say
what might emerge. But for the northern sector, i.e., the frontier with Qatar and
Abu Dhabi, we now had practically all the material we could need, and I greatly
hoped, therefore, that a settlement of it could he reached without further delay.
I felt sure that, after all that had passed, it would now be best to tackle this
frontier bit by bit.
19. Sheikh Yusuf did not demur to this suggestion, but said he must refer
the whole matter to the King. He would do this at once and let us know the result
as soon as possible.
20. In conclusion, I again urged the desirability of reaching an early settle
ment, I pointed out that three years ago the position had been that we were
taking our stand on the strictly legal position and claiming the “ blue ” and
“violet” lines. As a result of much very hard work and of our great desire
to go to the utmost limits to satisfy King Ibn Saud we had eventually agreed to
concede a very large area to him and had finally put forward the “ Riyadh Line.”
I showed Sheikh Yusuf these lines on the map and emphasised the extent to which

About this item


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)

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.

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English in Latin script
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Coll 6/67(4) 'Boundaries of South Eastern Arabia and Qatar.' [‎106r] (211/843), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2137, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 23 October 2019]

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