P. Tuson, Former Curator of Middle East Archives, Oriental & India Office Collection at the British Library. Originally published in
association with the British Library.
Author:N/A ISBN: (10) 1-85207-300-4 Published: 1991 Paper: Printed on acid free paper Binding: Library binding with gilt finish. The front cover carries the Qatari crest. See sample pages:
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Records of Qatar makes available in a single set of volumes the most important documents and maps to mark the history of Qatar from 1820 to modern times. The documents are selected from British political archives and are facsimiles of the contemporary reports, letters and memoranda written by British political representatives in the Gulf during a century and a half. The files include numerous translations and Arabic originals of letters from the Shaikhs.
The early documents attest to the first settlements in Qatar and to the origins of British interest in the region. The ´Utub tribe migrated from Kuwait in 1760 and developed Zubarah as a commercial centre before conquering Bahrain in 1783 and establishing the rule of the Al-Khalifah and a base for operations against Bahrain. The relationship between the two states is described in British accounts of local affairs. In September 1868, in the first direct negotiations between the British and the Qatari shaiks, the British Political Resident, Lewis Pelly, concluded with Muhammad bin Thani a written undertaking in which the latter agreed to refrain from disturbing the maritime peace.
Later volumes deal with the Turkish occupation of al-Hasa and Qatar, and the steady growth of British influence, leading up to the Anglo-Qatar treaty of 1916. In 1913 three major events changed the course of Qatar history and marked the beginning of the development of the modern state. In May 1913 the reconquest of al-Hasa by Ibn Sa´ud heralded the arrival of the Saudis onto the centre stage of the Gulf political scene. At the same time Turkish influence in the area was neutralised by the Anglo-Turkish Convention by which the Ottomans renounced all rights to Qatar and formally ended their occupation of the Peninsula. Almost immediately the Shaikh of Bahrain tried to revive his right to levy tribute from Qatar but was informed by the British that his claim was inadmissible. The Records show how the turbulence of the nineteenth century, with Qatar at the mercy of tribal migrations and invasion and occupation by the Wahhabis and the Turks, is replaced in the early twentieth century by increasing stability and territorial integrity, permitting the administrative development of the modern state.
Relations with Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia
Detailed attention is given in the Records to Qatar´s relations with its neighbour states of Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. Certain themes run for many years through the history of Qatar and among these are regional conflicts. Khaur al-´Udaid was the centre of a long-standing dispute between Qatar and Abu Dhabi caused by the migration of the Qubaisat section of the Bani Yas from Abu Dhabi in 1835. The Qubaisat were unwilling to return to Abu Dhabi rule and the arrival of the Turks at Doha gave them an opportunity to hold out against Shaikh Zaid, until a settlement was negotiated in 1880.
Zubarah first emerged as a long-term area of conflict in 1872 when it was claimed by the Bahrain Shaikh ´Isa b. Ali, the claim being ostensibly based on the allegiance to Bahrain of the Na´im tribe who spent the summer months pearling there; but the real aim was to check the activities of the renegade Al-Khalifah shaikh, Nasir b. Mubarak. In 1878 Zubarah was sacked and destroyed by Shaikh Qasim b. Muhammad Al-Thani and Nasir b. Mubarak. In 1895 Zubarah was re-settled by the Al bin ´Ali tribe, an action which confirmed Qatari authority over Zubarah until it was again questioned in the dispute with Bahrain of 1937.
The 1868 agreement with the British represented the beginning of Qatari independence from Bahrain and also marked the rise to prominence in Qatar of the Al-Thani family. The authority of the Al-Thani family was consolidated by Qasim b. Muhammad Al-Thani, in defeating the Wali of Basra in battle outside Doha in 1893. The triumph was a landmark in Qatari history and began the decline of Ottoman influence in Qatar. As the twentieth century progresses, the records provide historical background on the administration and finances of the Al-Thani and their relations with the leading merchant families such as Al-Mani and Darwish. The succession crisis of 1948/49 is detailed, ending with the abdication of Abdullah and the accession of Ali b. Abdullah in August 1949. Records of Qatar concludes with the abdication of Ali in 1960 and the accession of Shaikh Ahmad b. Ali Al-Thani.
Development of the Modern State of Qatar
The Records provide abundant material on the development of the oil industry, including the course of early negotiations from 1923 leading up to the Qatar Oil Concession of 1935 and the first oil strike of 1939. Detailed information is available from the 1940s and 1950s on the growth of oil revenues and on the distribution and application of oil wealth. The documents throw light on government relations with oil companies, on early offshore concessions and on the strikes and other labour problems of the 1950s.
Alongside the evidence of economic development, the Records show how the social infrastructure of the modern state was established in post war period. The first hospital was built by Shaikh Abdullahin the 1940s with the assistance of the American Mission. The decade of the 1950s, coinciding with the rule of Shaikh Ali, saw the transformation of traditional commercial activity as the pearl and cloth merchants of Doha diversified their business to supply machinery and equipment. The 1950s saw also the beginning of modern structures of government, with more complex needs for administration and control. In the late 1950s the labour difficulties of the oil industry resulted indirectly in the creation of an effective Qatari police force.
Documentary Importance Records of Qatar 1820–1960 has been prepared for the Archive Editions series of Regional Documentary Histories of the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula, published in association with the British Library (Oriental and India Office Collections). Consulting Editor: Penelope Tuson, former head of Middle East archives within the British Library (Oriental & India Office Collections). Most of the documents reproduced for the period pre-1947 are found in the India Office Records. Papers for the period 1947–1960 are chiefly found at the National Archives, Kew. File references are given for the benefit of researchers.
Understanding the Series
The three Records of Qatar titles combine to create a large collection which offers historical evidence for the political, economic and social evolution of Qatar. Such evidence improves our understanding of the modern political position of Qatar. It includes, for example, examination of frontier negotiations and questions of sovereignty; constitutional, military and defence developments.