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Coll 6/67(1) 'Boundaries of South-Eastern Arabia and Qatar.' [‎127r] (258/794)

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The record is made up of 1 volume (392 folios). It was created in 13 Jun 1934-13 Dec 1934. It was written in English and Arabic. 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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EASTERN (Arabia).
October 18, 1934
Section 1.
:J 3 4 j
HT 1 IM T .. . hit- -K>' i ' - •^ort***'**
[E 6371/279/91]
No. 1.
Sir John Simon to Mr. Calvert (Jedda).
(No. 375.)
Foreign Office, October 18, 1934.
WITH reference to my despatch No. 368 of the 11 th October enclosing a copy
of a record of a conversation held on the 3rd October with the Saudi Arabian
Minister in London regarding the eastern and south-eastern frontiers of Saudi
Arabia, I have to inform you that on the 15th October Sheikh Hafiz Wahba called
again at this Department to discuss this subject.
2 . He said that he had communicated to his Government the views which
had been expressed to him on the occasion of the conversation referred to above
and that he had now received King Ibn Sand’s reply, which was as follows.
3. King Ibn Sand’s claims in South-Eastern Arabia were to the whole of the
inland desert as distinct from the more or less settled coastal belt. The King
had no desire to encroach on the settled, or even the nomadic, coastal areas, and
had always maintained the friendliest relations with the coastal rulers. But the
frontier which he proposed, i.e., the limit of the desert as distinct from the coastal
belt, had always been the de facto boundary, had always been accepted by all
the parties directly concerned and had never in fact been questioned. All the
nomadic tribes in the desert area had always owed him allegiance and accepted
his sovereignty, as was evidenced by the fact that they regularly paid him zikat
tax. Their allegiance to him had never been disputed. On being asked whether
this meant that King Ibn Saud claimed the whole of the Rubai Khali, the
Minister explained that King Ibn Saud’s claim was not specifically to the Rubai
Khali, but to the “desert” generally as distinct from the coastal belt.
4. Sheikh Hafiz Wahba was warned that many of these statements could
hardly be accepted by His Majesty’s Government. Moreover, a claim of this
general nature was likely to lead to a number of special difficulties. So far as
the information at present available went, there appeared to be very little in
South-Eastern Arabia that was not desert, and indeed barren and uncultivated
areas often extended to the coast. It would be necessary, therefore, m the first
place to arrive at a satisfactory definition of the term desert, in the sense^ in
which it was now being used, and this might be a matter of very consideraole
difficulty. . ,
5. During the general discussion which followed, the Minister emphasised
that King Ibn Saud was anxious to settle this question on a reasonable basis. It
proved impossible, however, to obtain from him a closer definition of the King s
claims It was suggested to him that King Ibn Saud might at least have given
some further indication of the particular tribes over which he claimed over
lordship Mention had, for instance, been made by Fuad Bey Hamza o± the
Murra tribe, about which it was possible that there might be no very serious
difficulty. On the other hand, the Manasir had also been mentioned and this
tribe it was understood, had long owed a certain allegiance to the Sheikh of
Abu Dhabi. The Minister admitted that certain tribes, whose wanderings took
them over the desert, might properly belong to the coastal belt, but he did not
puisue Wahba was told that his communication would have to be
betore Sir ixnarew xyyaii icxi, xyi. : : u -u ^ i
reaching an early agreement—or, indeed, perhaps any agreement at all by local
negotiation were likely to be very greatly increased.
[231 s—1]

About this item


This volume primarily concerns British policy regarding the south-eastern boundaries of Saudi Arabia.

It includes interdepartmental discussion regarding the approach that the British Government should take in reaching a settlement with King Ibn Saud [‘Abd al-‘Azīz bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Fayṣal Āl Sa‘ūd] over the demarcation of the boundaries.

Much of the correspondence discusses the legal and international position of what is referred to as the 'blue line' (the frontier which marked the Ottoman Government's renunciation of its claims to Bahrain and Qatar, as laid down in the non-ratified Anglo-Ottoman Convention of 1913 and redefined and adopted in the Anglo-Ottoman convention of the following year), a line which is not accepted by Ibn Saud as being binding upon his government.

The volume features the following principal correspondents: His Majesty's Minister at Jedda (Sir Andrew Ryan); 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. , Kuwait (Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Richard Patrick Dickson); 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 Chief Commissioner, Aden (Bernard Rawdon Reilly, referred to in the correspondence as Resident); the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister); the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir John Simon); the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs; officials of 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. , the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office, the War Office, and the Air Ministry.

Matters discussed in the correspondence include the following:

  • Whether the British should press Ibn Saud [‘Abd al-‘Azīz bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Fayṣal Āl Sa‘ūd] for a general settlement of all outstanding major questions.
  • The extent of territory that the British should be prepared to include in any concession made to Ibn Saud.
  • The British response to what are referred to as Ibn Saud's 'ancestral claims' to territories east of the blue line.
  • Sir Andrew Ryan's meetings with Ibn Saud in Taif, in July 1934.
  • Meetings held at the Foreign Office between Sir Andrew Ryan, George Rendel (Head of the Foreign Office's Eastern Department), Fuad Bey Hamza (Deputy Minister for Saudi Foreign Affairs), and Hafiz Wahba (Saudi Arabian Minister in London), in September 1934.
  • The boundaries of a proposed 'desert zone', suggested by Rendel, where Ibn Saud would hold personal rather than territorial rights.
  • Saudi-Qatari relations.
  • Whether tribal boundaries should be considered as a possible solution to the boundary question.

Also included are the following:

The Arabic material consists of one item of correspondence (an English translation is included).

The volume includes a divider which gives a list of correspondence references contained in the volume by year. This is placed at the back of the correspondence (folio 4).

Extent and format
1 volume (392 folios)

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

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the inside front cover with 1, and terminates at the inside back cover with 394; 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 and Arabic in Latin and Arabic script
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Coll 6/67(1) 'Boundaries of South-Eastern Arabia and Qatar.' [‎127r] (258/794), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2134, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 22 November 2019]

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