Ruling Families of Arabia: Documentary Records of the Dynasties of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman

ISBN:  (13) 978-1-85207-310-7         Extent:    12 volumes, 7,500 pages, including 1 box of family trees

Editor:  A. De L. Rush. Consultant P. Tuson, formerly Head of Middle East archives, British Library (Oriental & India Office Collections).    Published: 1991
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish.  Front cover carries country crest.
See sample pages: not available

Archive Editions presents 12 volumes of previously unpublished despatches, diplomatic correspondence and political reports concerning the origins, evolution and legitimacy of the dynasties ruling in the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. Included are key documents illustrating the role of Kuwait´s ruling family, Al-Sabah, and the background to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990. There is extensive coverage of the Hashimite Royal House of Jordan and historical aspects of the Palestine problem. Much of the documentation is made up of memoranda on ruling family affairs; genealogical tables; confidential profiles and biographical data on emirs, shaikhs, kings and sultans; and Arabic originals of letters since the eighteenth century but there are also reports on the policies of the ruling families regarding dissident Islamic groups and popular demands for political reform.


Recent developments in the Middle East continues to throw into question the long term stability of the political regimes and the roles of the ruling families in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Yet the most significant political feature of the Gulf states and Arabia today remains the continuing predominance of its ruling families over all aspects of life in the region. By retaining de facto control over the oil revenues of their respective states, they exert a pivotal force in political activity within and beyond the Middle East. So too, the size of their export orders and the vast scale of their investments are key determinants in the matrix of international trade and the world´s money markets. No other families are richer or more influential.
In view of this, the uncertainties about the future leadership of the entire region make the publication of this work, comprising twelve volumes on the nature and origins of the ruling families, particularly welcome and well-timed.


The documents in these 12 volumes are intended to provide such historical perspective. Exact copies of original reports, correspondence, agreements and treaties explain the origins, composition and nature of the regimes in the area. They show how the ruling families handled their relations with foreign powers in earlier years, often in situations uncannily similar to present circumstances. Thus, for example, material is included showing how Kuwaiti citizens sought to curb the powers of their ruler in 1939 and how Iraq´s king at the time, Ghazi I, aimed to convert local discord into a pretext for annexing Kuwaiti territory.
Other documents provide an inside view of the evolution of the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan; the relations between the lower Gulf states before the creation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971; the sources of tension between the ruling families of Qatar and Bahrain; and the British role in the dynastic intrigues of the Al Bu Said of Oman.
The documentary collection is accompanied by genealogical tables and detailed notes on the composition of the ruling families and their origins, and by photographic portraits of rulers where photographs could be found. The editor has contributed an historical and analytical essay to the volume or volumes for each family. A detailed list of contents appears in each volume, including source references.
Sources and editorship of the publication
The publication presents twelve volumes of facsimile copies of British documents relating to the families currently ruling in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf States. Most of the material used for the period up to 1947, with the exception of Jordan, has been selected from the files of the India Office Records, London (now the British Library: Oriental and India Office Collections).
For material on Transjordan, subsequently Jordan, and for material on the years between 1947 and 1960, the chief sources are the files of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office kept in the National Archives, Kew. Further material has been taken from a variety of sources including administration reports, confidential prints and gazetteers.
Ruling Families of Arabia has been edited by Alan Rush, who is a writer and specialist in the affairs of the Middle East, where he lived for nine years. Besides his genealogical research and writings on Arabia´s ruling families published in Royal Families of the World, Volume 2 (Burke´s Peerage Ltd., 1980), he is the author of Al-Sabah: History and Genealogy of Kuwait´s Ruling Family (Ithaca Press, 1987) and the editor of Records of Kuwait (Archive Editions, 1989), Records of the Hajj (Archive Editions, 1993), and Records of the Hashimite Dynasties (Archive Editions, 1995). Material in the volumes on Qatar, the UAE and Oman was made available through the British Library Consultancy Service under the direction of Penelope Tuson.


Saudi Arabia: the Royal Family of Al-Sa'ud (2 volumes)

Jordan: the Royal Family of Al-Hashim (2 volumes)

Kuwait: the Ruling Family of Al-Sabah (1 volume)

Bahrain: the Ruling Family of Al-Khalifah (1 volume)

Qatar: the Ruling Family of Al-Thani (1 volume)

Oman: the Royal Family of Al Bu Sa'id (2 volumes)

United Arab Emirates (2 volumes):

Volume I:

  • Abu Dhabi: the Ruling Family of Al-Nihayyan
  • Dubai: the Ruling Family of Al-Maktum
  • Ajman: the Ruling Family of Al-Na'im
  • Umm al-Qawain: the Ruling Family of Al-'Ali

Volume II:

  • Sharjah: the Ruling Family of Al-Qasimi
  • Ras al-Khaimah: the Ruling Family of Al-Qasimi
  • Fujairah: the Ruling Family of Al-Sharqi

Box of genealogical tables.


Selections from the volumes:
Saudi Arabia:
  • Origins and evolutions of the House of Saud
  • The House of Saud and the Wahhabi movement
  • King Abdul-Aziz and the conquest of the Hejaz (1924-1925)
  • King Saud´s contacts with officials of foreign oil companies
  • Royal and private visits to Europe and the United States
  • The Saudi monarchy and the guardianship of the Holy Places
  • Relations between the Hashemite royal families of Jordan and Iraq pre-1958
  • Emir Abdallah, Lawrence and Churchill: Hashemite policies under the mandate
  • The reign of King Talal (1951-1952) and the accession of King Husain
  • Policies of King Husain vis-a-vis the Palestine problem
  • Dynastic guarantees and the Anglo-Kuwaiti Agreements, 1899-1914
  • Al-Sabah leadership in defence of Kuwait from Saudi/Wahhabi attack (1920-1930) and from Iraqi territorial expansionism (1902-1960)
  • Powers of the Al-Sabah and the quest for political reform (1938-39)
  • Impact of oil wealth on the evolution of the Sabah dynasty in the reign of Shaikh Abdullah Al-Salim (1950-1965)
  • Al-Sabah shaikhs and the succession issue in the 1950s
  • Precedents for Iraqi threats to hereditary rule in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
  • Dynastic rivalries as a vehicle for the extension of British control
  • Relations between the Al-Khalifah and prominent traders and pearl merchants
  • Travels abroad and meetings with other heads of state
  • Shaikh Salman bin Isa (1942-61) - relations with Shi´i leaders and response to
    calls for democratization, power sharing and national independence


  • The establishment of the Al-Thani dynasty and the treaty of September 1868
  • Relations between the Al-Thani and the ruling family of Bahrain
  • The reign of Shaikh Ali bin Abdallah and his abdication, 1960
  • Shaikh Abdallah bin Jasim and Qatar´s first oil concession, May 1935
United Arab Emirates:
  • The maritime ascendancy of the Al-Qasimi dynasty of Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah in the nineteenth century
  • Oil development and the Al-Nihayyan of Abu Dhabi
  • Shaikh Shakhbut of Abu Dhabi and the signing of the Buraimi Arbitration, 1955
  • The accession of Shaikh Rashid of Dubai and the reform movement
  • Dynastic affairs of the shaikhdoms of Ajman, Fujairah and Umm al-Qawain
  • Relations between the ruling families of Abu Dhabi and Dubai
  • Sultan Faisal bin Turki and the visit of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, 1903
  • The Al Bu Said and the Ibadhi sect
  • Education of Shaikh Said bin Taimur, his accession (1932) and his world tour
  • Relations between the Al Bu Said and the governments of Britain, France and
    the United States of America
  • Dynastic affairs and genealogies of the Al Bu Saidi families of Oman and


01. Saudi Arabia: Arabic tree of Al-Sa´ud family [Source: Dr R. L. Bidwell]
02. Saudi Arabia: Genealogical tables of Al-Sa´ud family, to 1906 (sheets 1-5) [Source: J.G. Lorimer, Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia, 1908-1915]
03. Jordan: Arabic tree of the Hashemite dynasty [Source: HRH Crown Prince Hassan]
04. Jordan: Genealogical table of the Royal House of Jordan, 1853-1975 [Source: A . de L. Rush]
05. Kuwait: Arabic tree of Al-Sabah family [Source:A . de L. Rush]
06. Kuwait: Pedigree of the Subah family, 1908 [Source: India Office Records]
07. Bahrain: Arabic tree of Al-Khalifah family [Source: Robert L. Jarman]
08. Bahrain: Genealogical table of Al-Khalifah family, to 1882 [Source: Persian Gulf Administration Report 1882-83]
09. Qatar: Arabic tree of Al-Thani family, 1953 [Source: Dr Bruce Ingham]
10. Qatar: Genealogical table of Al-Thani family 1953 [Source: National Archives]
11. UAE: Genealogical tables of the ruling families of the Emirates, to 1953 (sheets 1-7) [Source: Persian Gulf Historical Summaries 1928-1953
12. Oman: Table of the principal descendants of Imam Ahmad bin Said, 1744- 1907 [Source: J. G. Lorimer, Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia, 1908-1915]