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Coll 6/83 'Saudi Arabia: Exemption of Saudi nationals from Koshan tax.' [‎12r] (23/34)

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The record is made up of 1 file (15 folios). It was created in 1 Jun 1937-12 May 1939. 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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and 14 riyals for a journey to Mecca and back, while the
rates for Saudi nationals travelling to these places were
2 gold pounds and 8 riyals respectively. This discrimination,
however, did not form the subject of any protest, as it seems
reasonable to treat all foreigners as pilgrims during the
pilgrim season and to tax them at pilgrim rates. But it
appears to me that discrimination during the rest of the
year is on a different footing. The distinction, if any is
made, ought to be between residents, whether Saudi or non-
Saudi, and non-residents, since the latter can all be
considered as pilgrims.
5. I beg to draw your attention to two aspects of the
matter. In the first place, it is clear that Ibn Saud, by
the new regulation, is once more granting a privilege to
Hejazi travellers: in other words we have here yet another
proof that the King is obliged to try to conciliate his
Hejazi subjects. Khan Bahadur Ihsanullah took the view that
the regulation, whether intended to do so or not, might
induce foreigners to adopt Saudi nationality; my Dutch
colleague, however, does not think that there will be a
serious tendency in this direction among Dutch subjects.
At any rate, the King evidently feels obliged to go so far
as to sacrifice a certain amount of revenue as the price of
the loyalty of his Hejazi subjects; a bad omen for the next
pilgrimage season.
4. The second aspect is the question of discrimination
against British subjects. There is no question of an
infringement of most favoured nation rights even if we were
entitled to such rights by treaty, for all foreigners are

About this item


This file documents the British response to a recent Saudi royal command exempting Saudi nationals from paying a tax known as koshan (a tax levied on journeys from Jedda to Mecca or Medina) during the off-season, i.e. the four-month period of the year when pilgrims are not travelling to or returning from Mecca or Medina.

The correspondence discusses British concerns that British subjects in Saudi Arabia (who along with other foreigners would still have to pay the tax) are being discriminated against; it also records the outcome of a request made to the Saudi Government by His Majesty's Minister at Jedda (Sir Reader William Bullard) for the tax exemption to be extended to foreign residents.

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 (folios 2).

Extent and format
1 file (15 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 front cover with 1, and terminates at the inside back cover with 17; 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.

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English in Latin script
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Coll 6/83 'Saudi Arabia: Exemption of Saudi nationals from Koshan tax.' [‎12r] (23/34), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2156, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 22 November 2019]

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