Persian Gulf Administration Reports 1873–1957

 (13) 978-1-85207-010-6  Extent:  11 volumes, 7,700 pages
Author: N/A   Published: 1989
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available


The bland official title "administration reports" conceals the true value of the series, which is a mine of information on the development of the modern Gulf. British officials appointed to the area in the 19th century were often scholars of high repute and many of their appended monographs have since become a vital source for historians of the region. They range from S. B. Miles' biographical sketches of the rulers of Muscat and E. C. Ross' Memoir on Nejd to notes on the pearl industry, date cultivation and fisheries which contain information still sought after by regional planners. As British involvement in the Arab Gulf states increased so did the range of material included in the reports. Oil exploration is chronicled from the early years of the 20th century as are the subsequent social and economic changes brought about by its discovery. Education, particularly in Bahrain, is regularly reported on as well as developments in health and medical care.


In 1873, in recognition of the increasingly important position occupied by the Gulf in international affairs, the British transferred the overall supervision of their Political Residency at Bushire from the local government of Bombay to the supreme Indian administration - the Government of India at Calcutta. From this date the Resident, along with other British officials both within and outside India, was required to produce regular printed administration reports summarising political, diplomatic and economic developments in the area. These reports continued to be produced without interruption until Indian independence in 1947 when the conduct of British interests in the Gulf was taken on by the Foreign Office in London.
The first reports were compiled jointly by the Resident at Bushire and the British Agent at Muscat. They consisted of general summaries of events, occasional articles on subjects of special interest and detailed statistics on trade. In 1905 the format of the reports was altered to reflect the changing nature of British influence in the area. Through lack of space the trade tables were dropped, although general economic trends were still reported on, and the newly-appointed Agents at Bahrain and Kuwait, as well as the Consuls on the Persian coast, were each asked to submit separate sections. From 1908 the reports ceased to run from April to March as before and were compiled for each calendar year. Reports continued to be produced throughout each of the two World Wars although from 1941 they were not printed and survive only in typescript.


The reports present not just a continuous picture of the progress of British interests in the area. Nor do they confine themselves simply to the activities of rulers and officials. The importance of the reports lies ultimately in their wealth of information on the changing experiences of the people of the Gulf states through perhaps the most crucial three-quarters of a century of the region´s history.
The regular contents of the reports
Over the 75-year span the format and contents of the reports evolved but the same broad categories of information were maintained each year:
  • general review of events in the Gulf prepared by the Political Resident
  • local government and politics: separate summaries of developments in each territory including accounts of the leading families and their activities
  • trade, banking, finance, customs and excise
  • oil and mineral exploitation
  • meteorological reports including rainfall, temperature and prevailing winds;
  • education
  • public health and medicine
  • communications and transport, post and telegraphs
  • judicial administration
  • shipping
  • agriculture and fisheries
  • travellers and visitors
  • appointments of officials
  • further subjects which were sporadically treated include:sport; archaeology; slave trade; arms trade and smuggling; missionary activities
Features of special interest
During the nineteenth century memoranda on special subjects were prepared for inclusion in the reports, including the following:

Geography and travel:
  • Descriptions of the Bahrain islands (1878-1879)
  • Memorandum on the topography of Khuzistan (1878-1879)
  • Memorandum on the geography of Oman (1878-1879)
  • Notes of a tour through Oman and El Dhahireh (1885-1886)
Local politics, history and religion:
  • Memoir on Nejd (1879-1880)
  • Summary of the history of Oman from AD 1728 to 1883 (1882-1883)
  • Biographical sketch of Sayyid Sa´id ibn Sultan, Imam of Muscat (1883-1884)
  • Biographical sketch of the life of Sayyid Sultan ibn Ahmad [of Muscat] (1887-1888)
  • Notes on the Ibn Rashid family (1888-1889)
Trade, agriculture and fisheries:
  • Memorandum on the cultivation and exportation of opium in Persia (1874-1875)
  • Note on the pearl fisheries of the Persian Gulf (1877-1878)
  • Memorandum on the system of cultivating the date palm (1877-1878)
  • Persian weights, measures and time (1877-1878)
  • Report on the salt caves and mines and trade in salt in the Persian Gulf (1879-1880)
  • Note on sea fishing in the Persian Gulf (1880-1881)
  • Notes on the weights and measures employed in the pearl trade in the Persian Gulf (1885-1886)
  • Medical topography of Muscat (1876-1877)


Over their long run, the Persian Gulf Administration Reports varied considerably in page size and extent. This first published edition brings all the material together in a standard library format of 240mm x 160mm for ease of handling and reference. The series of annual reports is consolidated into the following sequence. [Up to the end of 1908 the reports run from April to March each year; thereafter they cover each calendar year.]
Volume I: 1873-1879
Volume II: 1879-1883
Volume III: 1883-1890
Volume IV: 1890-1899
Volume V: 1899-1905
Volume VI: 1905-1911
Volume VII: 1912-1920
Volume VIII: 1921-1930
Volume IX: 1931-1940
Volume X: 1941-1947
Volume XI: 1948-1957