History Of The Arabian Gulf History Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
The Arabian Gulf had always been important because of its strategic geographic location. Especially because it played significant rule as a link between the west and the east since it has the fastest and the easiest route to India. Europe had the biggest interests over the Gulf, particularly Great Britain. British dominance over India was responsible for its long interest over the Arabian Gulf. Therefore, Britain has a big rule when it comes to the formation of the Arabian Gulf States.
The peak of the British interests over the Arabian Gulf occurred in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. Because of its interests, the British government of India played an increasing role in the politics of the Arabian coast of the Gulf. Britain took naval action to restrain what it considered as piracy in the early 19th century. Their concentrations were on Al-Qawasim  who was based in Ras Al-Khaiman in the northern United Arab Emirates. Several attacks were carried out on between 1817 and 1820 when Al-Qawasim fleet was destroyed.
Britain began establishing a system of maritime truces in the early and mid 19th century that forbade rivalry by sea. All of that was because sea passage was Britain’s main interest to secure the way to its most important colony, India. These truces were temporary, until 1853 when a general treaty of maritime peace was signed. The Trucial Coast agreement was with what we know now as United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain. The Sheikhs of these lands were assured that Britain will not interfere in the internal affairs and that the Sheikhs have a complete power and authority over their land and people. 
During the next 100 years, the British signed a series of treaties with other tribes in the Gulf. As a result, by the end of World War I, leaders from Oman to Iraq had essentially given up their foreign relations control to Britain. Abu Dhabi entered into arrangements similar to those of Dubai and Bahrain in 1835, Kuwait in 1899, and Qatar in 1916  . The treaty’s terms express the most diplomat sense of the relationship between Britain and the Gulf States was the Agreement of 1882. This agreement specified that the members of the present United Arab Emirates could not make any international unions or host any foreign agent without British approval.
Because of these treaties, Gulf leaders acknowledged the need for Britain to protect them from their more powerful neighbors. The main threat came from the Al Saud and the Wahhabis  in central Arabia. They tried to unify the Arabian Peninsula under the name of Islam. Although the Turks “Ottomans” had defeated the first Wahhabi’s attempt of the Al Saud around 1820, the family rose again about thirty years later; it threatened not only Al-Qawasim but also the Al Khalifa in Bahrain and the Ibadi sultan in Oman. In the early 1900s, the Al Saud also threatened Qatar despite it being ruled by the Wahhabi. Only with British help, Al Thani in Qatar, and other area rulers Qatar retained their power.
The British control on the Gulf States gave those states the chance to flourish economically because of the safe maritime route which local merchants used to ship their goods and pearls. However, the East West trade through the Arabian Gulf dried up in the 19th century after the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt, which provided a direct route to the Mediterranean Sea. Gulf merchants continued to earn extensive income from slavery trade, but internal power, mostly from Britain, forced them to abandon this by 1900s. Therefore, the region continued to profit from the Gulf pearl industry. However, this industry declined in the 1930s as a result of the World’s Great Depression, which reduced pearl purchasing; also, because of the Japanese artificial cheap pearls  .
At the end of World War I, the Arab states of the Gulf were fragile, with unstable economies and with local rulers who sustained their control only with British help. The discovery of oil in 1930s changed everything. Oil exploration did not mean instant wealth for Gulf rulers. Although the oil revenue struck large deposits of oil in Bahrain immediately, it took more time in other states to locate oil wells of profitable size. For example, Oman was not capable to export oil until 1967. World War II delayed development of the oil wells; so it was not until the 1950s that Gulf States began to get large income from their exported oil. The oil fields in Kuwait were developing faster than its neighbors, and by 1953 Kuwait had become the largest oil producer in the Gulf. Until the 1970s, foreign companies owned and managed the Gulf oil industry  .
As production increased and the extent of oil deposits became known, local rulers improved their terms. In the 1950s, rulers demanded an equal share of oil company’s profits in addition to a royalty fee. By the 1970s, most of the Gulf countries, which by then were independent from British control, bought major shares in the subsidiary  companies that worked within their borders. By the early 1990s, many of these subsidiaries had become completely state owned concerns. The local government had total responsibility and profits.
India won its independence in 1947; this meant that Britain no longer had to worry about protecting the Arabian Gulf. Britain was also loaded by the tremendous lost it made during World War II and could not be as internationally involved as it had been before the war. Therefore, Britain gave away many of its strategic responsibilities to the United States. However, the British were bound to the Gulf by treaties so they stayed in the region, but it was clear by the 1960s that they wanted to leave the Arabian Gulf.
Kuwait was the first state to end the treaty with Britain. Oil production in Kuwait had developed more quickly than it is in neighboring states; as a result, Kuwaitis were better prepared for independence. They declared independence in 1961 but ran into a trouble when Abdulkareem Qasim  claimed that Kuwait was part of Iraq  . The British immediately sent military to Kuwait to prevent any Iraqi invasion. British and Kuwaiti positions were supported by the newly formed League of Arab States “Arab League,” which recognized the new state and sent military forces to Kuwait. Accordingly, when a new Iraqi government came to power in 1963, one of its first steps was to give up its claim and recognize the independence of Kuwait.
The experience of Kuwait may have increased the concern of other Gulf States leaders about declaring their independence. Even into the 1970s, Iran and Saudi Arabia continued to make claims on territory in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Although by the end of 1971 those states were independent, and nothing came of those claims. Gulf leaders also faced hesitation about the form that their states should take. Should they all bond together in the largest entity possible? Or should they break up into nine separate states, the smallest of which had little territory, few people, and no oil!
British action forced Gulf leaders to decide, because of domestic financial concerns. In the late 1960s, Britain decided to eliminate its military commitments east of Suez. As a result, the Gulf Sheikhs held a number of meetings to discuss independence. Initially, leaders considered a state that would include all nine sheikhdoms, but this formation was unworkable. As a result, only seven sheikhdoms  allied to form United Arab Emirates in 1971.
In conclusion, Britain as a great power gave the Gulf States legitimacy and powerful look by being interested in it. It has also secured the area for better trading which flourished the economics in the area. The British are the reason behind digging for oil which made the Arabian Gulf States the richest countries in the world. Moreover, they ended slavery and helped reforming the modern cities in the Gulf. Although the British worked primarily for their own interests, their rule in forming the Arab Gulf States cannot be forgotten.
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