East & South-East Asia
Near & Middle East
Slavic & Balkan
North America
The search function on the website is not working. Please use the enquiry form or email us with any questions.

Near & Middle East Titles:
GCC States: National Development Records: Communications & Transport 1860–1960, The
Alphabetical list
Titles by Topic
Titles by Country

ISBN: (13) 978-1-85207-620-7
Extent: 9 volumes, 6,300 pages, including 1 map box

Editor: A. Burdett
ISBN: (10) 1-85207-620-8
Published: 1996
Paper: Printed on acid-free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available

To enquire about a PRINTED version of this title, please use the button ADD TO ENQUIRY LIST. Then, go to ENQUIRY FORM page and follow the instructions.


As part of the three set series on the development of the GCC states this set contains documented evidence for the origins and expansion of communications services within the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia in the formative years of the 20th century.

This collection traces the development of the modern network of communications which makes light of the great distances involved in traversing the Middle East. From the first schemes to link India to Europe via a submarine cable through Muscat and Bushire in 1859, the documents detail a slow blooming of infrastructure in all aspects of communications: the development of deep water ports, shipping routes and navigational data; the growth of telegraph, cable, wireless and finally telephone systems, the press and broadcasting; the spectacular success of the railways in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; the creation of a reliable postal service; the improvement of roads and the 20th century expansion of motor transport, all creating links between and within the Gulf states.
Back to top

Historical Overview

As part of the three set series on the development of the GCC states this set contains documented evidence for the origins and expansion of communications services within the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia in the formative years of the 20th century.

The Inauguration of Communications Services

... can be said to begin with schemes to link India to Europe via a submarine cable connected to Muscat and onwards to Bushire in 1859. Following the failure of the first Red Sea Telegraph in 1860, a new line was proposed from Egypt to Aden, up the coast to Muscat and to Cape Mussandam (the Gwadur-Jask line) and was agreed in 1868. The second half of the nineteenth century brought about the establishment of wireless stations in the Mussandam peninsula (Oman) and later cable connections involved other sites, notably Bahrain and Kuwait.

The Early Roads

Routes and motor transport became a development matter in the 1930s. In the earlier part of the century the British had extensively surveyed the routes across the peninsula, as the World War I military handbooks betoken. From the mid-1930s, under pressure from oil development and broader political factors, there is a cumulative increase in planning and construction for motor transport. The Desert Locust Survey provided useful information on local routes connecting Saudi Arabia with the Gulf States at the end of World War II. Road building is well documented for Bahrain (the searoad or causeway scheme from 1929-48) and the Jedda-Mecca-Medina road in 1939-40.

The Roles Of Cable & Wireless Ltd, Marconi & Other Companies

Records concerning the telegraph, wireless and telephone services demonstrate
the extensive involvement of European and British firms, such as Cable and Wireless Limited from 1934-47 (formerly Eastern Telegraph Company, formed 1872) and Marconi, which stemmed from Imperial and International Communications. An additional theme in the records is the vested interest and persistent efforts of the various oil companies in developing and expanding reliable telecommunications from the Gulf states to the outside world from the 1930s on.

Postal Services at Muscat, Bahrain etc.

The evolution of local postal services is traced in some regions in great detail; for instance Ibn Sa´ud´s desire that the al Hasa region should avail itself of the Bahrain postal delivery is a sizeable topic, as is the prolonged attempt to establish a post office at either Sharjah or Dubai. However, despite the early beginning to services (Muscat had a Government of India post office in 1864) the records are strangely silent on most aspects of postal services. The nationalisation of postal services from 1947 is an important aspect of local development and is especially evident in records for Kuwait, Bahrain and the Trucial States.
Back to top

Documentary Importance

Material for this study is drawn chiefly from Oriental and India Office Collections of the British Library, and from the Foreign Office, Colonial Office and War Office record classes at the Public Record Office, Richmond, Surrey.

The documents published in this collection are reproduced in facsimile from papers in government files, and are therefore mostly in English. A certain number of documents have been preserved in Arabic. In either case you will read the authentic texts conveying the ideas, arguments and decisions by which history is made.

While every effort was made to arrange the material by region or country, this was not always possible as some topics inevitably related to two or more areas: for instance, the planning of several routes from Kuwait through other territories, or Saudi Arabian postal services via Bahrain. Thus Volume 8, Inter-State Links, reflects these connections and interdependencies. Otherwise material is arranged firstly by the type of communication service, and then chronologically within each of the GCC states.
Back to top

Arrangement of volumes

Back to top

Contents Outline

Volume 1 : Bahrain and Qatar
Part One: Bahrain
Part Two: Qatar
Volume 2: Kuwait
Volume 3: Kuwait
 Volume 4: The UAE and Persian Gulf Waters
Volume 5 : The UAE, Oman and Persian Gulf Waters
Part One: The United Arab Emirates and Persian Gulf Waters

 Part Two: Oman
 Volume 6: Saudi Arabia
 Volume 7: Saudi Arabia
Volume 8: Inter-State Links
Volume 9: Maps
Back to top

Key documents

Back to top


01.   Map of Bahrain Harbour showing the diversion of the submarine cable, undertaken in the CS Lady Denison Pender, 2 December 1935

02.   Middle East Cable network, 1943. Diagram by No. 4 Company, 3 GHQ Signals depicting routes under construction and connected routes

03.   Chart of Kuwait Harbour, prepared by the Naval Staff (I.D.) as regards defences etc. Produced under the Superintendence of Rear-Admiral J.A. Edgell, C.B., O.B.E., Hydrographer

04.   Detailed map of Wadi Mushi depicting the cable routes to Bushire and to Bundar Abbas, soundings etc. Lieutenant G.H. Bevan and Captain J.B. Eustace of the HMS Fox, at Henjam, 1906

05.   Map depicting camel tracks in the northern Trucial Oman, Jebel Faiyah - Jebel Hafit. Map based on a triangulation by N.R. Fallon and a plane table reconnaissance by A. J. Young during the season 1946-1947

06-10.   Maps to accompany the Military Report and Route Book on the Persian Gulf, General Staff, India, 1940 :
06.   Overview of Northern Arabia (map no. 1)

07.   Kuwait (compiled from Lt.-Col. H.R.P. Dickson´s Map of Kuwait Hinterland and W.O. Sheets H. 38 and H. 39; map no. 2)

08.   Bahrain, Hasa and Qatar (map no. 3)

09.   Trucial Oman (map no. 4)

10.   Muscat and Oman (map no. 5)

11.   Arabic Map of the Imperial and Sacred Hejaz Railway showing the stations fixed upon

12.   Damascus - Mecca Railway. Plan made by Hajji Muklitar Bey, Technical Adviser of the Hejaz Railway, compiled by Captain (Artillery) Gumer Zekki and Lieutenant Hassan, 1902

13.   Map showing roads in Qatar Peninsula. Based on topography by Williamson and Pomvrol and triangulation by Sokol Offsky. Petroleum Development (Qatar) Ltd.

14.   Sketch Chart of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, showing the positions of the proposed lights, 1881, Letts, Son & Co. Limited, London

Back to top

Editor's Introduction

Back to top

Related Titles:
Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East 1535–1956
GCC States: National Development Records: Civil Aviation 1920–1962, The
GCC States: National Development Records: Defence in the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia 1920–1960, The
Middle East Intelligence Handbooks 1943–1946
Military Handbooks of Arabia 1913–1917
Neglected Arabia / Arabia Calling 1892–1962
Oil Concessions in Five Arab States 1911–1953: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Trucial States and Oman
OPEC: Origins and Strategy 1947–1973
Persian Gulf Historical Summaries 1907–1953, The
Political Diaries of the Arab World: Persian Gulf 1904–1965
Political Diaries of the Arab World: Saudi Arabia 1919–1965
Treaties and Engagements Relating to Arabia and the Persian Gulf
Water Resources in the Arabian Peninsula 1921–1960