GCC States: National Development Records: Civil Aviation 1920–1962, The

ISBN:  (13) 978-1-85207-477-7     Extent:   8 volumes, 5,500 pages
Published: 1994
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available

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 civil aviation services within the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia in the formative years of the 20th century.
The coming of air transport to the remote Gulf and desert emirates has been a factor in the twentieth century transformation of an older way of life. Accordingly Archive Editions has prepared a research collection in 8 volumes from British government records on the origins of civil aviation in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The documents tracing the early days of civil aviation in the Gulf region provide much new material on geographical, tribal, political and diplomatic aspects of Arab history. Correspondence and reports on routes and landing fields are of local historical interest, [note : unless otherwise indicated, agreements are with Britain].
The records reflect the relative independence and strength of Saudi Arabia from the 1920s, when Ibn Saud sought training facilities for his Hijazi air force, through to World War II and the Saudi-US agreement over the Dhahran air base. The end of World War II saw a rapid growth in international regulatory bodies and the affirmation of sovereign control by the Gulf States over their airspace.


his collection covers the six GCC states. However, material on Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the UAE (formerly the Trucial States) is of a different kind than the records on Saudi Arabia, reflecting the early independence and greater resources of the Saudi Kingdom. In fact Britain devoted much effort to negotiating overflying rights of Nejd and Hejaz territory and securing a landing ground in al-Hasa. It was the selection of the Arab coast route to India which reflected Britain´s close relationship with the Gulf emirates and which shows, through the documents, the development of political and commercial influence in the region.
The pre-war period showed how routes were established and agreements made with Arab rulers, with most aviation matters under British Administration. However, the years after the war saw the rise of international regulatory bodies and the origins of the national airlines of the Arab states.
"... every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over airspace above its territory." [The 1944 Chicago Convention on Civil Aviation, article 1.] There are strong parallels between the evolution of civil aviation in the Gulf states and the development of oil resources; the same process of reconnaissance and evaluation; similar stages of negotiation and compromise leading to concession agreements and treaties. The results of the expansion of civil aviation were similar too: the opening of trade and transport links between the Arab rulers and the West also accompanied the ripening of Arab independence.


Material is organised into pre- and post-World War II groups. Documents relating to specific territories are organised by country, while material on overall policy and planning is found in general sections.
Technical material on airport construction, etc has been omitted. The emphasis throughout is on strategic and sovereignty issues; on reconnaissance and route planning; negotiations leading to agreements and regulations; relations with Arab rulers.


Historical events and episodes of special interest included within these volumes:
  • Reconnaissance of Persian Gulf air routes, 1926 onwards
  • Flying boat anchorages, Muscat Bay, 1929
  • Surveys of Gulf by Imperial Airways and Royal Air Force,1930-1931
  • Night stations at Dubai and Ras-al-Khaimah, 1931
  • Feasibility of landing ground at Sharjah, 1932
  • Bahrain aerodrome, 1923
  • Ibn Saud and overflights of Najd, 1930
  • Bahrain: arrangements with Imperial Airways and RAF,1932-1933
  • Kuwait: landing ground, 1920-1921
  • Muscat: landing grounds at Sohar and Bait al Falaj, 1929
  • Qatar: landing grounds, 1927 , 1930, 1932 and 1939
  • Trucial States: facilities at Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kalba, 1930s
  • Trucial States: evaluation of Dibba; of Sharjah
  • Saudi Arabia: Hejaz, proposed commercial services, 1926
  • Saudi Arabia: landing ground at Al-Hasa, 1932
  • War-time activities and development 1932-1945
  • Muscat: presence of Pan-American Airlines, 1942
  • Saudi Arabia: post-war facilities at Dhahran and Jedda, 1945 onwards
  • Saudi Arabia: pilgrim transport, 1940s and 1950s
  • Post-war developments, civil aviation policy, routes, services, 1946 onwards
  • Emergence of national airlines in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, 1950s onwards
  • Expansion of services; growth of commercial operators, 1950s
  • Development of international routes and air traffic, 1960s