Editor: R. Bailey, CMG
Author:N/A ISBN: (10) 1-85207-120-6 Published: 1992 Paper: Printed on acid free paper Binding: Library binding with gilt finish. Front cover carries Omani crest. See sample pages:
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In these 7500 pages Archive Editions presents a key selection of facsimile original British Government documents detailing the history of Oman between 1867 and 1960. The records from 1867 to 1947 are largely derived from the British Library Oriental and India Office Collection. The records from 1948 to 1960 are primarily derived from the National Archives, Kew. The set includes a map box containing 14 maps dated between 1837 and 1948 including a Genealogical Table of Descendants of the Imam Ahmad Al Bu Saidi, and a Table of the Principal Descendants of Imam Ahmed bin Said.
The Sultanate of Oman has maintained its independence under its Imams, Saiyids and Sultans since the early days of Islam. At given periods it was subject to attack by Persians, Portuguese and Turks. But although the coastal areas had to be ceded for long periods of time, the Imams were able to continue the struggle from the interior.
The Portuguese were finally expelled from Muscat in 1649 by the Imam Sultan bin Saif. Omani ships ranged the Indian Ocean and carried an important part of the trade between the Gulf, India and East Africa. The Omanis eventually took Mombasa and other east African territories from the Portuguese and became Rulers of Zanzibar.
The Omani-British Treaty of Friendship signed in 1800
In 1798 Napoleon occupied Egypt and clearly had designs on the East. This led the British to send a mission to Muscat in 1800 and in the Treaty made in that year it was agreed that “an English gentleman of respectability” should always reside in the port of Muscat and that friendship between the two countries should “endure till the end of time of the sun and moon cease in their revolving careers.”
Few of the envoys sent could withstand the climatic and health conditions of those days and it was not until 1861 that a permanent Consulate and Political Agency was established. The archives were erratically kept for the first few years but from 1867 they were meticulously preserved.
Records of the British Consulate, Muscat 1867-1947
Until 1947 the Consuls and Political Agents were members of the Indian Political Service and reported through the British Resident in Bushire, and later Bahrain, to the Government of India. In 1947 India became independent and the Foreign Office in London took over diplomatic relations with the Sultanate.
Documentary Importance From the Editor´s Introduction
Throughout the period covered by these records, the Sultanate of Oman was largely terra incognita to the outside world. Only the town of Muscat had regular links with other countries and it was frequently cut off from the rest of the country by internal unrest.
In a land of imposing castles the tribes were all armed and the two great tribal confederations of Hinawis and Ghafiris were constantly at odds with each other. In the attempt to impose their authority, the rulers faced a dilemma. They needed the help of the British as the major power in the area, but were jealous of their independence. The dilemma was resolved by the enduring and close relationship which was to develop between the Sultans and successive British political agents.
The British Consul was the link between the reigning Sultan and the British authorities. They met frequently and exchanged letters on all manner of subjects. These letters are in Arabic until the reign of Said bin Taimur, (1932-70). All the Arabic texts are accompanied by contemporary English translations. The documents for the 1950s record tribal conflicts and agreements between Hinawi and Ghafiri confederations, the pacification of the interior of Oman, the subsequent revolt by the Imam Ghalib in 1957 and its suppression in 1959. They include the Saudi incursion into the Buraimi Oasis between 1952 and 1955 and provide evidence of other territorial questions including Dhofar, Musandam, Sur, and the sale of Gwadur to Pakistan in 1958.
The royal palace was but a short walk from the British Consul’s residence and whatever the situation, the two remained in close touch. The Sultan had for most of the period no representatives abroad and although from time to time other countries, particularly France and the United States of America, were represented by honorary Consuls, all the Sultanate’s foreign relations were effectively conducted with the British Government as the intermediary. For these particular historical reasons, the records of the British political officers remain virtually the sole source of continuous information on the modern development of the Sultanate.
Many of the British Consuls travelled extensively throughout the country, often being among the first Europeans to do so. Their descriptions make fascinating reading, and give an intimate and detailed picture of a byegone age. The records are of perennial interest and an invaluable research source for Government and historians alike.
Understanding the series The three Records of Oman titles combine to create a large collection which offers historical evidence for the political, economic and social evolution of Oman. Such evidence improves our understanding of the modern political position of Oman. It includes, for example, examination of frontier negotiations and questions of sovereignty; constitutional, military and defence developments.