Arabian Boundary Disputes

ISBN:  978-1-85207-400-5  Extent: 20 volumes, 18,000 pages
Editor: R. Schofield   Published: 1992
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available


Arabian Boundary Disputes is designed as an historical and legal dossier on the development of the international boundaries within the Arabian peninsula, and includes material covering the Arabian peninsula´s most critical territorial disputes: Iran-Iraq, Iraq-Kuwait, Bahrain-Qatar and Saudi Arabia-Yemen. Each boundary is documented from its origins in international diplomacy up to 1992, the year of publication of this collection. In order to broaden the historical perspective and particularly to bring the documentary materials as close to the present as possible a wider range of international archival sources was used, and along with a wider geographical coverage and the inclusion of all pertinent contemporary materials, this differentiates Arabian Boundary Disputes from its forerunner, Arabian Boundaries.


Arabian Boundary Disputes is published in 20 volumes and extends to some 18,000 pages of documentary material, selected from that available in 1992, the year of publication.
The work is designed and presented as an historical and legal dossier on the development and current status of the international boundaries within the Arabian peninsula. A vast array of contemporary materials (up to and including 1992) is included to cover developments in the Arabian peninsula´s most critical territorial disputes: Iran-Iraq, Iraq-Kuwait, Bahrain-Qatar and Saudi Arabia-Yemen. These complement an expertly-selected and varied collection of archival materials which trace in great detail the development of state territory within Arabia.
A wider geographical coverage (see contents outline), the inclusion of all pertinent contemporary materials and the utilisation of a far greater and more international range of archival sources, differentiates Arabian Boundary Disputes from its immensely successful forerunner, Arabian Boundaries.
Detailed contents list for each volume, editor´s notes for each international boundary under review and a painstakingly researched and referenced introduction to Arabian Boundary Disputes keep readers fully informed of the background to the documents they are viewing; separation of the documentary records of each Arabian territorial limit into Key Documents and other sections dealing with the various geographical areas of the border zone means that each volume in Arabian Boundary Disputes can be used either as a clear and concise reference guide or alternatively as a reliable, representative and carefully-constructed historical work.
For both the policy specialist and interested generalist Arabian Boundary Disputes is a ground-breaking anthology. It warrants the attention of all those with a genuine interest in seeing territorial stability within the Arabian peninsula maintained and, in some cases, restored. Only by fully understanding the origins of current problems can we cope to live with them in the future.


Much of the historical documentation in these volumes is drawn from British Government archives in the Public Records Office and the British Library (Oriental and India Office Collections). Crown copyright material is reproduced by consent of the National Archives, London.
 In order to broaden the historical perspective and particularly to bring documentary materials as close as possible to the present day, the following sources have also been used: United Nations: documents relating, inter alia, to Saudi Arabia-Yemen, Iran-Iraq and Iraq-Kuwait; USA: Foreign Broadcasts Information Service; USA: State Department: Records at the National Archives; USA: State Department: Office of the Geographer; British Broadcasting Corporation: Summary of World Broadcasts.


1 Iran-Iraq I, 1639-1909: Key Documents, 1639-1907 / Shatt al-Arab, 1843-1908 / Land Border, 1911-1908
2 Iran-Iraq II, 1909-1937: Key Documents, 1910-1937 / Shatt al-Arab, 1909-1935 / Land Border, 1911-1934
3 Iran-Iraq III, 1938-1992: Key Documents, 1938-1991 / Shatt al-Arab, 1939-1990 / Land Border, 1942-1992
4 Iraq-Kuwait I, 1830-1940: Key Documents, 1899-1940 / Land Border, 1906-1939
5 Iraq-Kuwait II, 1941-1992: Key Documents, 1947-1992 / Umm Qasr, Warba and Bubiyan, 1941-1991 / Land Border, 1939-1991
6 Saudi Arabia-Iraq, 1922-1991: Key Documents, 1922-1981/ Evolution of Border, 1923-1991
7  Jordan-Saudi Arabia 1923-1965: Key Documents, 1925-1965 / Evolution of Border, 1923-1965
8 Syria-Iraq, 1915-1935: Key Documents, 1915-1933 / Evolution of Border, 1918-1935
9: Part 1: Turkey-Iraq, 1919-1946: Key Documents, 1919-1927 / Evolution of Border, 1922-1946
    Part 2: Iraq-Jordan, 1926-1992: Key Documents, 1932-1984 / Evolution of Border, 1926-1992
10 Saudi Arabia-Kuwait I, 1829-1991: Key Documents, 1913-1969 / Evolution of the southern Kuwaiti land border, 1829-1988
11 Saudi Arabia-Kuwait II, 1908-1991: Evolution of the Neutral Zone borders, 1933-1961 / Saudi-Kuwait and Neutral Zone offshore limits, 1939-1967 / Umm al Maradim, Qaru and Kubbar, 1908-1991

12 Bahrain-Saudi Arabia, 1904-1958: Key Documents, 1958 / Evolution of Maritime Boundary, 1904-1958
13  Bahrain-Qatar I, 1818-1992: Key Documents, 1868-1957 / Hawar Islands, 1830-1982
14  Bahrain-Qatar II, 1818-1992: Zubarah, 1818-1960
15  Bahrain-Qatar III, 1818-1992: Dibal, Jarada and the Seabed Boundary, 1830-1992
16  Part 1: Saudi Arabia-Qatar, 1871-1965: Key Documents, 1913-1965 / Evolution of Border, 1871-1961
      Part 2: Qatar-United Arab Emirates I,1837-1969: Key Documents 1869-1969
17  Qatar-United Arab Emirates II, 1837-1969: Khawr al Udaid, 1837-1960 / Halul island and the seabed boundary, 1830-1961
18 Saudi Arabia-United Arab Emirates, 1913-1974: Key Documents, 1913-1974 / Evolution of Border, 1920-1961
19 Part I: United Arab Emirates-Sultanate of Oman, 1855-1977: Key Documents, 1934-1977 / Evolution of Border, 1855-1960
      Part II: Sultanate of Oman-Saudi Arabia 1913-1991: Key Documents, 1913-1991 / Evolution of Border, 1920-1957
20 Saudi Arabia-Yemen, 1913-1992: Key Documents, 1913-1992 / Evolution of western land border, 1913-1991 / Evolution of eastern land border, 1932-1988


Volumes 1-3: Iran-Iraq, 1639-1992
STATUS at 1992: With his astounding volte-face two weeks into the invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussain apparently recognised a thalweg boundary delimitation once more along the Shatt al-´Arab, though there has been no formal follow-up to its development.
  • Early religious truces identifying wide strips of disputed territory, 1639-1822
  • Imperial mediation and arbitration of the border question, 1843-1914
  • Shatt al-Arab disputes, 1937-1975
  • Territoriality and the settlement of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War
  • UN peacekeeping operations, 1988-1991
  • Saddam Hussein´s volte-face of August 1990
Volumes 4-5: Iraq-Kuwait, 1830-1992
STATUS at 1992: The United Nations have announced a land-boundary delimitation (April 1992) which is essentially a refined interpretation of earlier British approximations of the boundary (1940 and 1951): Iraq withdrew from the activities of the commission after rejecting the 16 April 1992 decision/recommendation.
  • Creation of a territorially defined Kuwait, 1902-1913
  • Diplomatic exchanges of 1923 and 1932 fixing Iraq- Kuwait boundary
  • Safwan date palms and the Warba and Bubiyan disputes, 1933-1958
  • Countdown to the first Kuwait Crisis, 1958-1961
  • ´Agreed minutes´, 1963, in which Iraq recognises Kuwait and its boundaries
  • Territorial stalemate, 1964-1988
  • Countdown to the second Kuwait Crisis, February 1989-August 1990
  • UN and the Kuwait-Iraq boundary, 1991-1992
 Volume 6: Saudi Arabia-Iraq, 1922-1991
STATUS at 1992: As confrontation with the allied forces loomed early in 1991, Iraq cancelled all international undertakings entered into with Saudi Arabia since 1968: Saudi Arabia responded by registering all previous boundary agreements negotiated with Iraq at the United Nations in June 1991, the first instance in which the Wahhabi state had deposited territorial instruments at this institution.
  • Protocol of Uqair, 1922 & Bahra Agreement of 1925
  • Tribal raiding, 1920-1930
  • Bon Voisinage, Alliance and Frontier Demarcation, Accords, 1931-1939
  • Division of Neutral Zone, 1975
  • Border Treaty of 1981
  • Registration at United Nations of border treaty texts by Saudi Arabia, June 1991
Volume 7: Jordan-Saudi Arabia, 1923-1965
STATUS at 1992: Despite the apparent resolution of the Aqaba question with the agreement of 1965, prevarication early in 1992 suggested that the issue was not quite extinct. Any remaining questions which the Saudis may have harboured had certainly subsided by the time Prince Bandar visited a recuperating King Hussein in hospital during August 1992.
  • Failure of Kuwait Conference, 1923-1924
  • Hadda Agreement 1925
  • Anglo-Saudi Treaty of Jiddah, 1927
  • Persistence of disputes over Aqaba and Ma´an and the Jabal Anaiza, 1930-1960
    Strategic land swap of 1965: The Treaty of Amman
  • Signature of maps confirming final, detailed delimitation of the boundary, 1969
Volume 8: Syria-Iraq, 1915-1935
STATUS at 1992: all juridical disputes proper over the border had disappeared by the mid-1930s. Functional disputes concerning the permeability of this boundary to the movement of people, goods and even water have been the order of the day with the rival factions of the Ba´th Party firmly entrenched in government in Damascus and Baghdad.
  • De Bunsen Committee, Sykes-Picot correspondence, 1915-1916
  • Dair al Zur question, 1918-1920
  • Franco-British Convention, 1920
  • Problems over the Nusaibin wedge, 1920
  • Tripoint al Jabal Tanf, 1931
  • League of Nations-sponsored Anglo-French agreement on boundary, 1932
  • Demarcation, 1932-1933
Volume 9 (Part 1): Turkey-Iraq, 1919-1946
STATUS at 1992: No juridically-based disputes: transboundary resource disputes proliferate - most importantly successive river disputes (Tigris and Euphrates): presence of opposition Kurdish groups in the border zone frequently dictates border policy of Baghdad and Ankara.
Sevres and Lausanne treaties, 1920-1923
  • The Mosul Question and the League of Nations, 1923-1924
  • The Brussels Line and the League of Nations decision of 1925, 1924-1925
  • 1926 Tripartite Treaty of Ankara
  • 1927 Border demarcation
  • 1946 renewal of previous border treaty provisions
Volume 9 (Part 2): Iraq-Jordan, 1926-1992
STATUS at 1992: No juridicial disputes: every indication that the 1984 modification of the boundary is accepted by both states: Aqaba route became very important to Iraq during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War: is likely to be so again once sanctions are relaxed.
  • Question of territorial limits first raised, 1926-1927
  • Britain´s determined efforts to reach a settlement eventually bear fruit with agreement on delimitation by exchange of letters, 1932
  • Proposals to demarcate boundary following joint survey of border zone: problems on agreeing southern terminal of boundary, 1984
  • Renegotiation of 1932 boundary - text is subsequently ratified in Amman: slight change in delineation of southern extremity of boundary, 1984
  • Permeability of border to illegal trade with Iraq: concerns of United Nations that sanctions against Iraq are not being applied consistently, 1992
Volume 10-11: Saudi Arabia-Kuwait And The Neutral Zone, 1829-1991
  • STATUS at 1992: An agreement of 1988 reportedly disposed of all remaining points of confusion concerning the incorporation of the Neutral Zone into the state territories of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Saudi Arabia still insists that Qaru and Umm al Maradim should be subject to some sort of common regime to reflect their position offshore of the former Neutral Zone.
  • Institution of the ´Red´ and ´Green´ Lines of diminishing Kuwaiti authority, 1913
  • From the Jahrah Crisis to the Uqair Protocol: Red or ´inner´ line of 1913 recognised as boundary: institution of Neutral Zone, 1920-1922
  • Ikhwan rebellion and the Kuwait blockade, 1927-1930
  • Trade, Extradition and Good Neighbourliness Treaties, 1942
  • By a series of agreements the Neutral Zone is divided equally between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, 1960-1988
  • Persistence of partial Saudi claim to the islands of Qaru and Umm al Maradim, 1992
    Volume 12: Bahrain-Saudi Arabia, 1904-1958
    STATUS at 1992: the 1958 accord was the first maritime boundary delimitation to be agreed in the Gulf, recognising the Bu Saafah Shoal as a Saudi feature but specifying that all future revenue accruing from the associated oilfield would be shared in perpetuity. The most spectacular and permanent infringement of the seabed boundary in recent years has been the construction of the King Fahd Causeway link between the two states.
  • Ottoman-Bahraini claims to Zakhnuniyah Island and the Anglo-Ottoman settlement of Gulf questions in 1913, 1908-1913
  • Status of islands, islets and shoals: Bain al Khabir and Bain al Saghir, 1937-1939
  • Bahraini oil concession agreements, 1925-1940
  • Seabed proclamations of 1949
  • BAPCO and ARAMCO activities at Bu Saafah, 1949-1950
  • Anglo-Saudi discussions of boundary questions, August 1951
  • Opinions of C.H.M. Waldock, 1952-1954
  • Bahrain-Saudi seabed agreement on 22 February 1958

Volumes 13-15: Bahrain-Qatar, 1818-1992

STATUS at 1992: Before the international courts can pass opinion on the respective claims of Bahrain and Qatar to the Hawar Islands and the Dibal and Jarada shoals, the present bout of procedural wrangling must first be dealt with. Whereas Qatar maintains that it was within its rights when unilaterally referring the dispute to the courts during the summer of 1991, Bahrain insists that an agenda covering all possible points of dispute between the two sides (this might even include Zubarah in one way or another) should be agreed, then jointly submitted.


  • Early comments on the Hawar group and surroundings waters, 1830-1909
  • 1913 Anglo-Ottoman Convention and the 1916 Anglo-Qatari treaty forbid any Bahraini role on the Qatar mainland, including Zubarah
  • Resurrection of Zubarah dispute in 1937 and failure of successive status quo type arrangements to resolve the issue, 1937-1954: Bahrain, whose claims to the locality range from full sovereignty to extraterritorial jurisdiction are ultimately told that Zubarah must be considered an integral part of Qatar, 1957
  • British ruling that the Hawar islands belong to Bahrain, 1939
  • Britain´s 1947 award for a Bahrain-Qatar seabed boundary, in which Dibal and Jarada are recognised only as Bahraini enclaves on the Qatar seabed, is rejected by both sides
  • Artificial islands and territorial water, 1951-1960
  • Mediation in the Hawar dispute passes to Riyadh as Britain departs the Gulf, 1971
  • GCC-brokered undertaking on behalf of Bahrain and Qatar not to escalate the Hawar dispute, 1982
  • Crisis on the Fasht al-Dibal, 1986: Saudi-sponsored resolution of crisis
  • GCC Summit dominated by consideration of Bahrain-Qatar dispute, December 1990
  • Exchange of fire on the shoals, September 1991
  • Extension of Qatari territorial waters, April 1992

Volume 16 (Part 1): Saudi Arabia-Qatar, 1871-1965

STATUS at 1992: For 27 years most observers had assumed that the delimitation introduced by the 1965 agreement was accepted by Riyadh and Doha: atlases recently produced in both states depict the same line. Early in 1992, however, Saudi Arabia closed an important transit route to Qatari traffic. The Khafus border post incident of 30 September 1992, which resulted in 3 fatalities, caused the Qatari cabinet to sever but not to abrogate the 1965 agreement.
  • Qatar in the 1913 Anglo-Ottoman Convention and the negotiation of the 1916 Anglo-Qatari Treaty
  • Anglo-Najdi treaties of 1915 and 1927
  • De facto territorial understandings between Ibn Saud and the al-Thani rulers of Doha, 1923-1934
  • Britain´s employment of the ´Blue´ and ´Violet´ lines argument in the long-running, though fruitless Anglo-Saudi frontier negotiations, 1934-1955
  • Britain pledges protection for Qatari Ruler in return for its mainland oil concession being granted to a British company, 1935
  • Underdevelopment of Shaikhly authority within Qatar: attempts at national integration, 1935-1949
  • Jabal Naksh dispute, 1935-1939
  • Dammam Conference, February 1952
  • Saudi-Qatari agreement, 7 December 1965: Qatar´s long-standing territorial claims are, for the most part, recognised formally by Saudi Arabia
Volumes 16 (Part 2) And 17: Qatar-United Arab Emirates, 1837-1969
 STATUS at 1992: With the conclusion of the 1974 Saudi-Abu Dhabi border agreement, granting Saudi Arabia a 25km land corridor through the Khawr al-Udaid, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates could no longer strictly claim to be neighbours, though the 1974 agreement was, in truth, only a formalisation of a situation which had pertained for decades. Saudi Arabia´s land corridor entitles it to no rights over the continental shelf, however, so the 1969 seabed boundary negotiated between Qatar and Abu Dhabi still holds good.
  • British Residency at Bushire refers question concerning Halul island as matter of course to Abu Dhabi, 1939
  • Khawr al Udaid recognised as Abu Dhabi territory, 1871, 1881 and 1906
  • Ruler of Qatar recognises Saudi predominance in the Khawr al Udaid, 1934
  • Seabed proclamations and the issue of maritime oil concessions, 1949-1952
  • British authorities debate title to Halul island, after years in which the feature had been presumed as belonging to Abu Dhabi, 1951-1961
  • Award of Halul island to Qatar, February 1962
  • Qatar-Abu Dhabi seabed boundary agreement of 20 March 1969: provisions to share revenue from Bunduq oilfield
Volume 18: Saudi Arabia-Abu Dhabi, 1913-1974
STATUS at 1992: Boundary introduced by the August 1974 agreement has for the most part been demarcated, though the coordinates of the agreement have never been released to the public. Some difficulties have been caused by ARAMCO´s desire in 1992 to exploit the Saibah field, which straddles the 1974 boundary at the southern tip of the Sabkhat Matti. Though 90% of the field (known as Zarara in UAE) unquestionably lies within Saudi territory, there were reports that the 1974 agreement (or an annex to the instrument agreed at the same time) also specified that the field could only be developed jointly in a manner akin to the old Saudi-Kuwaiti Neutral Zone.
  • Britain´s employment of the 1913 Anglo-Ottoman ´Blue´ and ´Violet´ lines as its legal defence in its long-running negotiations with Saudi Arabia, 1934-1955: Riyadh Line of November 1935
  • Saudi territorial claims of June 1934 (maximum claim), April 1935 (Hamza line) and October 1949 (extension of claims in Arabia to embrace the Buraimi oasis)
  • Claims of Shaikh Shakhbut bin Sultan bin Zaid, 1937-1952
  • Failure of Buraimi Arbitration, 1954-1955
  • Britain unilaterally declares then imposes boundary delimitation (modified Riyadh Line of 1937) in south-eastern Arabia, August-October 1955
  • Saudi-Abu Dhabi agreement of August 1974
Volume 19 (Part 1): United Arab Emirates-Sultanate Of Oman, 1855-1977
STATUS at 1992: Many sections of the punctuated boundary introduced as a result of Julian Walker´s exertions during the late 1950s/early 1960s have now been demarcated. It is likely that a number of small disputes survive to this day. The conclusion of the Oman-Saudi border agreement on 21 March 1990 seemed to give fresh impetus to efforts to finalise the Oman-United Arab Emirates delimitation. For during May 1991 the two governments set up a joint committee to discuss bilateral issues including the border.
  • Investigations of Major P. Z. Cox into the limits of jurisdiction of the Sultan of Muscat in the coastal stretch from the Batinah Plain northwards to Ru´us al Jibal and the Musandam Peninsula, 1901-1902
  • Qasimi-Muscat disputes over Dibba, 1933-1944
  • Dispute over Wadi al Qawr, 1936-1955
  • Territorial provisions of the land-based oil concessions granted by Muscat and Oman and the Trucial Coast shaikhdoms, 1937-1953
  • Julian Walker´s efforts to settle the boundaries between the Trucial Coast shaikhdoms and the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, 1958-1961
  • Dispute over terminus of Ras al Khaimah-Oman (Ru´us al Jibal) land boundary on the Gulf, 1977
Volume 19 (Part 2): Sultanate Of Oman-Saudi Arabia, 1913-1991
STATUS at 1992: Saudi Arabia apparently agreed to respect long-standing Omani territorial claims (the modified Riyadh Line declared by Britain during August 1955 and unilaterally imposed just two months later) in the boundary agreement of March 1990, which was ratified during May 1991. The March 1990 delimitation was then considered. The text of the March 1990 boundary agreement has not yet been made public. While it certainly has not yet been registered with the United Nations, reliable reports suggest that a copy of the text was supplied to the Secretariat of the Arab League in Cairo.
  • Anglo-Ottoman ´Blue´ and ´Violet´ Lines, 1913-1914
  • Saudi Arabia´a maximum (June 1934) and minimum (Hazma line of April 1935) claims to territory in southern and south-eastern Arabia
  • British estimation of territorial limits for the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, September-October, 1934
  • Sultan of Muscat and Oman´s ´no claims´ line of 1 May 1937
  • Extension of Saudi territorial claims in southern and south-eastern Arabia, October 1949
  • Saudi Arabia confirms existing territorial claims (1935 Hamza Line) for boundary with the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, 18 October 1955
  • Saudi-Omani border agreement of March 1990 and its ratification during May 1991
Volume 20: Saudi Arabia-Yemen, 1913-1992
STATUS at 1992: Other than in its western reaches, which were settled by the 1934 Treaty of Taif and then demarcated during the following two years, the Saudi-Yemen border remains to be settled. Traditionally there has been a large overlap in the territorial claims of the two sides in the sand and steppelands to the north-east of the Wadi Hadramawt. The continuing marginality of tribes to the central authority of both the San´a and Riyadh governments in the central stretch of the disputed border zone adds further to the difficulties of establishing a clear boundary line.
  • Anglo-Najdi treaties of 1915 and 1927
  • Territorial understanding reached between Ibn Saud and the Idrisi, 1920
  • Mecca Protectorate Agreement, 1926
  • Incorporation of Asir into the Najdi/Hijazi realm, 1930
  • Saudi-Yemeni Treaty of Taif, 1934
  • Saudi Arabia´s maximum (June 1934) and minimum (Hamza Line of April 1935) claims to territory in southern and south-eastern Arabia
  • Demarcation of 1934 Taif treaty line by pillar, 1935-1936
  • Annex to 1934 Taif agreement giving recognition to demarcation, 1937
  • Philby´s approximation for eastern Yemeni boundary in the Mashriq, 1937
  • Aden Government reluctantly agrees to further territorial concession to move along stalled frontier negotiations, 1937
  • Saiar tribe and the al-Abr agreement 1948 Umm al Samim-Jabal Raiyan line proposal, 1949-1954
  • UN Operations on frontier during Yemeni civil war, 1963
  • Wadi´a border post incident, 1969
  • Yemeni unification, April-May 1990
  • Developments culminating in Saudi-Yemeni Geneva talks of July 1992