Records of Saudi Arabia 1902–1960

ISBN: (13) 978-1-85207-325-1     Extent: 10 volumes, 5,200 pages, including 1 map box

Editor:  Chief Editor P. Tuson, former head of Middle East archives within the British Library (Oriental & India Office Collections). Assistant editors: A. Burdett, E. Quick.   Published: 1992
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish.  The front cover carries the Saudi crest.
See sample pages: not available

Records of Saudi Arabia 1902-1960 traces the evolution and development of the Saudi state from the momentous reconquest of Riyadh in 1902 by ´Abd al-´Aziz bin ´Abd al-Rahman bin Faisal al Sa´ud, Amir of Najd. The collection offers historical evidence for the creation of Saudi Arabia – the capture of Riyadh, the conquests of Al Hasa and the Hijaz, the occupation of Taif, Jedda, Mecca and Medina, and the proclamation of the Kingdom. It includes many original letters of King Abdulaziz and illustrates the political, social and economic changes which in just over half a century transformed the desert amirate into one of the richest countries in the world.
The early years of this collection contain the key events, including a retrospective volume covering the nineteenth century, and aim to give a wide base of information from which further research will be stimulated.


The collection is prefaced with an introductory volume which provides an historical background to the main series of documents. The origins of Saudi power are illustrated by selections from early European accounts of the Wahhabi religious reform movement in the eighteenth century, documents on the political development of the Saudi dynasty and official British summaries of events in Najd and Al Hasa in the nineteenth century.
The volumes detail the creation of Saudi Arabia from the struggle for supremacy in Najd and Al Hasa in the early years of the century, to the conquest of the Hijaz in the 1920s and the formal proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. Regional relations with Kuwait and the Gulf states, with the mandated territories of Iraq and Transjordan and with the southern neighbouring states of Yemen and Asir are also included.
From 1932 onwards the development of the Kingdom’s oil economy as well as its internal and external political relations are traced through a wide range of archival documents. During the late 1930s and the 1940s, Saudi Arabia’s stance as a neutral power caused it to be assiduously courted by both the allied and axis powers. After the war relations with the Americans became much more important although the British competed strongly to remain in control of arms procurement and defence supply.
In the late 1940s Saudi Arabia was a powerful voice in support of the Palestinians during the partition of Palestine. The death of King Abdulaziz in November 1953 was a blow to the country but the new King Saud was supported by his father’s advisors and in particular by Emir Faisal.
Throughout the entire 22 volumes there is an overall structure of subjects covered such as the affairs of the royal family, foreign and internal affairs, economic, civil and social development, defence policy and territorial negotiations and disputes.


Understanding the Collection
The three parts of Records of Saudi Arabia combine to create a large collection which offers historical evidence for the political, economic and social evolution of Saudi Arabia. The early part of the collection is organised so as to present a series of key documents which provide researchers and historians with access to original documents upon which to base their own work. In the more modern period, 1960 to 1970, almost all of the material available has been included providing a very detailed series of papers for these years.

Documentary sources
The documents have been selected from the major British archive series in the National Archives and the British Library´s Oriental and India Office Collections. They include documents from the London archives of the Foreign Office and Colonial Office, the India Office, the War Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Ministry of Fuel and Power. There are also letters and reports from British Government agents in the Middle East: the Jedda Consulate, the British High Commission Cairo, the Political Resident in the Gulf and the Political Agents at Kuwait and Bahrain. Importantly the collection includes many original letters of King ´Abd al ´Aziz b. ´Abd al -Rahman b. Faisal al Sa´ud as well as early Saudi diplomatic, political, social and economic policy documents and correspondence.


Examples of the subject coverage: 
  • The origins of the Wahhabi Movement in the eighteenth century
  • The conquest of Mecca and Medina, 1803-1806: the first Saudi state
  • The reigns of Faisal b. Turki Al Sa´ud, 1834-1838 and 1843-1865
  • Travellers and surveyors of the Arabian Peninsula, 1831-1841
  • The capture of Riyadh, 1902
  • Relations with Ibn Rashid and with the Shaiks of Kuwait and Muhammerah, 1902-1918
  • Captain W.H.I. Shakespear´s meeting with Ibn Saud, 1911
  • The conquest of the Hijaz: the attack on Taif, September 1924, the siege of Jedda and the occupation of Mecca and Medina, 1924-1926
  • The Anglo-Saudi treaty, 1927
  • The Ikhwan rebellion, 1928
  • The proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1932
  • The border dispute with Yemen, 1934
  • The oil concession with Standard Oil of California, 1933
  • The first oil exports, 1939, and the development of the oil economy
  • US/Saudi relations and ARAMCO
  • The death of King ´Abd al-´Aziz b. ´Abd al-Rahman b. Faisal Al Sa´ud, 1953
  • The Buraimi dispute
  • The economic infrastructure; transport, telegraphs, aviation, communications
  • Local government
  • Religion and social structure


Map 01. Map of Arabia illustrative of W. C. Palgrave´s journey in 1862-1863, London 1865.
Map 02. A map of the oases of El Hasa, prepared by Lieutenant W.H. Wyburd to accompany his journal.
Map 03. Map showing the extent of Wahhabi and of Muscat power, 1865.
Map 04. Rough tribal map of Arabia [from: The Arab of the desert: a glimpse into badawin life in Kuwait and Sa´udi Arabia, by H. R. P. Dickson, 1949].
Map 05. Sketch map of the Saudi-Yemen frontier enclosed in Jedda Chancery note, 12 June 1934.
Maps 06-08. Three sketch maps of Saudi Arabia to accompany survey of economic commercial and financial conditions, April 1936: physical features, administration communications.
Map 09. The frontier area of Qatar. Foreign Office Research Department map handed to the Saudi Arabian delegation at the Dammam conference, 1952.
Map 10. Map showing boundary claims, handed to Saudi Arabian delegation at the Dammam conference.
Maps 11-15. Table of the ruling (Wahhabi) Al Sa´ud (´Anizah) family of southern Najd (5 sheets) compiled by J. C. Gaskin in 1905 and revised in 1906 by Captain S. G. Knox, Political Agent Kuwait, with the assistance of ´Abd al-Rahman b. Zaid, agent of the Al Sa´ud [from J. G. Lorimer´s Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia, volume I (Historical) Part III, 1915].
Map 16. Arabic tree of Al-Sa´ud family [Dr R. L. Bidwell].


Arab Bulletin 1916–1919, The
Arab Dissident Movements 1905–1955
Arabian Boundaries 1853–1960
Arabian Boundaries 1961–1965
Arabian Boundary Disputes
Arabian Treaties 1600–1960
Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East 1535–1956
Documentary Studies in Arabian Geopolitics: South-West Arabia: Saudi Arabia–Yemen Dispute
Foreign Office Annual Reports from Arabia 1930–1960
Gazetteer of Arabian Tribes
Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia
GCC States: National Development Records: Civil Aviation 1920–1962, The
GCC States: National Development Records: Communications & Transport 1860–1960, The
GCC States: National Development Records: Defence in the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia 1920–1960, The
Islam: Political Impact 1908–1972 (British Documentary Sources)
Islamic Movements in the Arab World 1913–1966
King Abdul Aziz: Diplomacy and Statecraft 1902–1953
King Abdul Aziz: Political Correspondence 1904–1953
Middle East Intelligence Handbooks 1943–1946
Military Handbooks of Arabia 1913–1917
Neglected Arabia / Arabia Calling 1892–1962
OPEC: Origins and Strategy 1947–1973
Persian Gulf Administration Reports 1873–1957
Persian Gulf Gazette and Supplements 1953–1972
Persian Gulf Historical Summaries 1907–1953, The
Persian Gulf Précis, The
Persian Gulf Trade Reports 1905–1940, The
Political Diaries of the Arab World: Saudi Arabia 1919–1965
Records of Saudi Arabia 1961–1965
Records of Saudi Arabia 1966–1971
Records of the Hajj: The Pilgrimage to Mecca
Records of the Hijaz 1798–1925
Ruling Families of Arabia: Documentary Records of the Dynasties of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman
Saudi Arabia: Secret Intelligence Records 1926–1939
Saudi Green Book 1934, The
Slave Trade Into Arabia 1820–1973, The
Treaties and Engagements Relating to Arabia and the Persian Gulf
US Presidential Papers Concerning Saudi Arabia 1941–1962
US Records on Saudi Affairs 1945–1959
Water Resources in the Arabian Peninsula 1921–1960