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ISSN: 2332-0761
Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs
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Khawr al-Udayd: Historical Significance and Conflict: Documentary Study

Abaal-Zamat KH1* and Al-Shraah IF2

1Department of Humanities,College of Arts and Science, University of Qatar, Qatar

2Department of History, University of Jordan, Iran

*Corresponding Author:
Dr. Abaal-Zamat KH
Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities
College of Arts and Science
Doha, University of Qatar, Qatar
Tel: 974 4403 3333
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: August 06, 2015; Accepted Date: August 28, 2015; Published Date: September 08, 2015

Citation: Abaal-Zamat KH, Al-Shraah IF (2015) Khawr al-Udayd: Historical Significance and Conflict: Documentary Study. J Pol Sci Pub Aff S1:010. doi: 10.4172/2332-0761.1000S1.010

Copyright: © 2015 Abaal-Zamat KH, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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This study aims to highlight the strategic and economic significance of the location Khawr al-Udayd, period and the emergence of interest in the Khawr since the Ottoman era. In addition, the study outlines the nature of conflict on Khawr al-Udayd between Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Each party claimed the Khawr as its own property, and put forth its arguments and justifications through various means. The study also shows the role of Britain on this conflict as it played a key role in reducing the intensity of the conflict between the aforementioned three parties interested in taking control of the Creek. The British documents reveal how Britain was able to limit Saudi Arabia expansion towards the Creek, thereby preventing it from controlling it in addition to convincing the ruler of Abu Dhabi to assign Khawr al- Udayd, which devolved to the Qatari’s control thanks to the British support. The study was based on primary sources, including British documents, other foreign and Arab documentary sources, as well as modern references specialized in the geography and modern and contemporary history of the Arabian Gulf.


Khawr al-Uday; Border disputes in the Arabian Gulf; Saudi Arabia; Abu Dhabi; Qatar; United Kingdom; Ottoman empire


The study explores the nature of conflict on Khawr al-Udayd between Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Each party claimed the Khawr as its own property, and put forth its arguments and justifications through various means. The main goal of this research is to focus on the strategic and economic significance of the location Khawr al-Udayd, during the Ottoman period.

Study Area: Geographical Significance of Khawr al- Udayd Location

There is controversy among scholars and writers interested in the modern and contemporary history of the Arabian Gulf over the definition of Khawr al-Udayd. Lorimar described it as “a small bay on the far western end of Abu Dhabi coast, extending about 180 miles to the west of Abu Dhabi. Qatar borders are located on or adjacent to the northern Gulf”[1]. Other scholars indicate that al-Udayd is an area surrounded by villages, valleys, and gardens, while Khawr al-Udayd is a sea inlet located at the southern Qatari borders. It has large divisions, one extending to the north, the second to the west, and the third to the south. The divisions are then connected at a narrow entrance. The Khawr is interspersed by a large group of islands and protruding rocks, and is abound with beautiful types of fish and waterfowl. It is also surrounded by a marsh and swamps full of mosquitoes. “Navigation in Khawr al- Udayd is permissible for Qataris and neighbors alike”. Its extension from the entrance to Ras Maharif [2] is about twenty kilometers, and its width from the south to the far north is about fifteen kilometers [3]. Scholars point out that al-Udayd area stretches from the coast of Al- Wakra City to Ras Al-Hola where Bani Yas is located, includes Dalma islands, and is bordered by Ahsa to the west [4]. The coast of Khawr al- Udayd starts from the southern Saudi-Qatari borders at the north end of Khawr al-Udayd up to Doha Duehin, forming al-Udayd peninsula, then the coast of Doha Duehin, until the borders point with the United Arab Emirates. The northern and southern coast of al-Udayd peninsula is separated by several rock highlands known as al-Udayd Mountains surrounded by marshes and low sandy land connected with the Empty Quarter desert from the west [5]. The geographic location of Khawr al- Udayd has three characteristics. First, it has a military characteristic, as it was used an important military base by the Ottomans. In the north and west of the Creek, there are compound and complicated crescentshaped sand marshes. The British military took advantage of this property later. Currently, it contains a well-known U.S. military base. The Creek also has a sea economic significance, especially with regards to fishing. The third characteristic of the Creek is related to tourism [6]. It seems that the tectonic movements of the Creek made it constantly changing, which contributed to the establishment of military bases for the Ottomans or the Americans at the present time. The technological underdevelopment in the past, the difficulty of penetrating the Creek by the enemy, and the ongoing tectonic changes prevented the installation of military sites in the Creek. “No one can establish military bases or install tents at Khawr al-Udayd coast, because it has several marshes, and the tide is unique in Qatar. The Creek contains disintegrated sandy sediments which are highly responsive to the tide” [7]. Khawr al-Udayd is a land armlet located in the south of Qatar, next to the UAE and Saudi borders. The Creek has a distinctive geographical location, in view of the fact that it connects the borders of three countries: Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Creek has also an economic significance, given that it was a pearling center and is a source of natural water. The Creek has an important role in the economic field, especially in the field of tourism. Tourists visit the Creek on daily basis to enjoy its scenery. It was described as the desert marvel of Qatar. It is more like a coastal tourist resort and contains natural reserves [8]. Khawr al-Udayd is considered to be a natural reserve pursuant to Law No. (1) of 2007 issued by the Qatari government on considering Khawr al-Udayd a natural reserve (Figures 1 and 2). It is referred to as inland sea and is located in the most southern point of Qatar. It is a natural habitat for a large number of mammals, birds and reptiles. The Creek is favored by many people for camping and hiking in the cold months. It has been declared as “an exclusive water area” under resolution No. (78) of the Qatari Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture in 1993, where commercial fishing operations were prohibited in the Creek [9]. Moreover, Khawr al-Udayd is a desert coastal area located between Abu Dhabi and Qatar. It was resided by Bani Yas tribes, including Qubeisat tribe, which migrated from Abu Dhabi in the midnineteenth century during the reign of Sheikh Khalifa bin Shakhboot. Th Qubeisat tribe was loyal to the Ottomans present in Qatar. The Political British Resident in the Arabian Gulf feared that this would lead to an extension of the Ottoman influence in the Omani coast chiefdoms. Accordingly, it instructed Abu Dhabi Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi to occupy Khawr al-Udayd in 1878. The situation was settled subsequently, until it was found out that the Creek is rich with oil; where Qatar claimed Khawr al-Udayd back. Things were further complicated with the emergence of Saudi Arabia as a party to the dispute over the Creek. The parties held stringent positions until August 1974, i.e. until the independence of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates, where Saudi Arabia abandoned its demand for Al- Buraimi in return for Abu Dhabi abandonment of the Creek. Thus, al- Udayd area became an exclusive Saudi area, and the two issues were solved at once [10].


Figure 1: Location map of Qatar and the neighbouring countries.


Figure 2: Map showing Khor Al-Odaid and the international borders between the State of Qatar and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.


The nature of the study requires to use many techniques to achieve its goals, such as:

• British documents.

• Satellite images.

• Secondary data (Books, archives, etc.).

Results and Discussion

a. The emergence of Khawr al-Udayd issue

The significance of Khawr al-Udayd started to appear in 1869, when a group of Qubeisat tribel, led by Butti Bin Kahdim of Abu Dhabi, migrated and settled in the Creek. Thereafter, Sheikh Zayed Bin Khalifa reported complaints to the British in 1871, arguing that “the prosperity of Abu Dhabi city is declining since this colony is competed by al- Udayd”. The British Political Resident in the Arabian Gulf, Colonel Pelly, conducted extensive research with his assistant Major Smith over the ownership of the Creek. The finding of this research was that “al- Udayd itself was located within Abu Dhabi territory without dispute” (Shabar: 2010, p. 344), but Qubeisat (al-Udayd people) claimed that they form a colony independent of Abu Dhabi. The British, however, feared the Ottoman domination over Khawr al-Udayd [11]. In addition, in 1872, Bahraini sheikhs, who then controlled the Qatar peninsula, claimed certain rights with respect to Khawr al-Udayd. The British Resident Colonel Pelly believed that the Bahrain claim for certain rights to Khawr al-Udayd, such as pastures and the like, does not give the sheikhs the power to impose their authority on any part of the Creek. Pelly considered that “Khawr al-Udayd is part of Abu Dhabi territory” [12]. In 1871, the Ottomans attempted, upon reaching Ahsa region, contacting Bani Yas in Khawr al-Udayd. They offered them affiliation with the Ottoman Empire, but their attempt failed. The Ottomans attempts were resumed in 1873, where four Ottoman Turks visited the Creek, and agreed with al-Udayd residents to pay an estimated amount of (40 or 50 $) to the Ottomans per year, through Sheikh Qasim bin Mohammed bin Thani in Doha. The British found out that al-Udayd sheikh raised the Ottoman Empire flag at times and the conciliatory sheikhs at other times (1875-1876). This occurred when Captain Gothray visited al-Udayd onboard (My Freer) vessel. He found the conciliatory sheikhs flag raised there, “but he understands that al- Udayd is paying tax to the Ottomans at the same time” [13]. It appears that the Ottomans tried to control al-Udayd in the seventies of the nineteenth century. Lorimer indicates that the British were disturbed by certain acts of Bedouin tribes of the Ottoman Empire in Khawr al- Udayd, specifically Bani Marra tribe members. These acts extended along the boat ports in al-Udayd during 1876 – 1877. The Sheikh of al-Udayd could not prevent such accidents. The British directed the attention of the Ottoman government to “the increasing piracy risks off the coast of Qatar, as a result of Turkish control in this direction”. The British government avoided referring specifically to al-Udayd, for fear of provoking an intractable regional problem [14]. At the same time, Sheikh Qasim bin Mohammed bin Thani, who succeeded his father in 1878, sought to secure the Qatari borders with Abu Dhabi at the Creek. He approached the Ottomans, and the Ottoman governor of Baghdad, Medhat Pasha, granted him the title of Qaimmqam of Qatar. Yet, Sheikh Qasim bin Mohammed tried to keep up with the British, due to the weakness of the Ottomans [15]. In 1881, the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Qasim, announced his intention to occupy the Creek; noting that the Ottoman government suggested so. However, the British government prevented the Sheikh of Qatar from occupying the Creek, and sent a protest to the Ottoman Government, which denied instructing the Sheikh to occupy the Creek. The British Political Resident in the Arabian Gulf met the Sheikh of Qatar in Doha in 1888. The Sheikh stated that his goal is to “settle in al-Udayd and that he is able to give guarantees of no disturbance in the sea”. Yet, the Political Resident told him that Khawr al-Udayd belongs to the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, according to the British government orders, and it is not possible to settle there [16]. Starting from the 1880’s of the nineteenth century, Sheikh Qasim bin Mohammed of Qatar tried to control al-Udayd. Sheikh Qasim expressed to the British Political Resident his desire to occupy al-Udayd in 1881. However, Colonel Ross refused this intention and the matter was settled without fight. The dispute broke out during the eighties of the nineteenth century between Sheikh Qasim of Qatar and Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Qasim accused Sheikh Zayed of “interfering in the affairs of al-Udayd which is lawfully affiliated to Sheikh Qasim, who plans to occupy it”. Despite Sheikh Qasim’s numerous attempts to occupy al-Udayd, backed by the Ottomans, the British authorities prevented the occupation, such as the incident that took place in 1886 [17]. In 1881, the British government rejected the request of Sheikh Qasim bin Mohammed of Qatar for rebuilding Khawr al-Udayd, because the British considered it to “belong to Abu Dhabi”. In 1891, the Ottoman government tried to send a governor to Khawr al-Udayd, but the British diplomatic representatives in Istanbul informed the Ottoman government that al-Udayd is part of Abu Dhabi territory, which made the Ottoman government renounce the scheme. In 1906, the British government provided a pledge to Sheikh Abu Dhabi in which it admitted that “Khawr al-Udayd belongs to the governor, and pledged to protect it from any occupation”. The aforementioned British pledge was stated in a letter sent by Major Percy Cox to Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa on the first of December 1906. Sheikh Zayed was informed that the British government “recognizes the subordination of the region to Abu Dhabi territory, and they are ready to protect the Creek from any other occupation. However, they are not satisfied with its reoccupation by you in view of the adverse or violent outcomes that may arise. Therefore, they are not willing to help him to re-occupy the Creek”[18]. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the issue of Khawr al-Udayd emerged clearly, with the advent of the third Saudi state in 1902. The issue of the south-east Saudi borders goes back to the year 1913/1914, when the eastern borders of the Ottoman Empire were divided into two agreements between the British and Ottoman governments. Abdul-Aziz bin Saud was not informed of these two agreements at that time. A large area of the region, which lies to the east of 1913/1914 line, was without actual sovereignty. It “was a desert inhabited by tribes that show vague loyalty to Ibn Saud alone”. While 1913/1914 line border was recognized, this did not prevent the Saudi government from claiming areas located beyond the line, upon which no governor imposed his authority [19]. It appears that the British were attentive to Ibn Saud’s attempts to control Khawr al-Udayd area.

The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Qatar over Khawr al- Udayd

Saudi Arabia’s interest in Khawr al-Udayd area emerged after King Abdul Aziz announced the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the 1930’s and the drilling for oil attempts, accompanied by the emergence of the border issue. Negotiations on the south-eastern borders took place between the Saudi and British governments in early April 1935. Nonetheless, negotiations faced a fundamental obstacle that prevented the two sides from reaching a settlement. The obstacle was Ibn Saud’s claim for two areas: a hill called Mount Nakhsh and a small bay called Khawr al-Udayd. The Mount Nakhsh issue was complicated, because the mountain is originally located within the Qatar oil concession. On the other hand, Khawr al-Udayd was described in the British documents in 1935 as a small bay located in what was until this moment part of Abu Dhabi territory on the southeastern edge of Qatar Peninsula. The area adjacent to Khawr al-Udayd was home to small numbers of nomadic tribes, over which the Ruler of Abu Dhabi had no authority. Britain tried to diminish the value of Khawr al-Udayd area in the eyes of: Ibn Saud, the ruler of Abu Dhabi or the British government itself. Still, the British documents point to the possibility that “the Creek would become a service port in the future, if appropriate expenditure was allocated to it to serve useful purposes, in the event oil facilities create enough traffic for the exploitation of a port located in such a hard-to-reach place”. The British documents show that the British government “does not want to prolong the dispute over the area which in the end does not carry any value for any of the parties” [20]. The Saudi side, during its negotiations with the British in April 1935, justified that its interest in the Creek is due to its need for the following:

First: establishing an additional port on the Arabian Gulf to facilitate its development and conduct trade easier than from Ras Tanura and Akir ports. Second: The need to control the smuggling operations that the Saudis strongly believed are carried out in that part of the coast to the Saudi territory. Despite the aforesaid Saudi justifications, the British believed that the motivation is the influence stemming from the aspirations of the Saudis, “which play an important role in the Saudis desire to acquire the Creek”. Ibn Saud was dissatisfied with the actions of the British and “his confinement within the limits of the internal arid region, while they kept for their protectors the most valuable areas of the coast which were originally owned by him” [21]. In September 1935, the Saudi government also objected to the Sheikh of Qatar’s actions regarding granting the Anglo - Iranian Oil Company the right to drill for oil in some border areas between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. As a result, the British representative in Qatar, Calvert, addressed a letter to the Saudi Foreign Minister, Sheikh Yusuf Yassin, in which he said: “The southern borders of the oil concession granted to the Iranian English Oil Company by Sheikh of Qatar does not exceed the (Green Line) [22], but is located at an appropriate distance to its north. Therefore, the concession does not exceed any territory under discussions with the Saudi government”. According to the British view, Sheikh Yassin understood that the concession is located in a very remote area to the north of the Green Line. Sheikh Yassin replied to Calvert by a letter, in which he said: “Our government retains full rights to these lands, which it cannot afford to abandon in favor of the princes of these lands. Our government will not recognize any privileges or rights that may be granted in connection with these areas and reserves the right to the same ... Our government is fully prepared at any time to discuss the settlement of the borders issue in a spirit of cordiality and friendship towards the neighboring princes upon resuming the negotiations on this issue” [23]. Bullard tried to demonstrate the British government’s point of view, and clear the confusion with the Saudis. On 9 February 1938, he sent a letter to Fouad Hamza, in which he stated the contents of Calvert’s letter sent on September 26, 1935. Bullard said that the official text sent to the British Foreign Ministry differs from the Arabic translation. Accordingly, the paragraph referred to by Fouad Hamza, according to the English text, is as follows: “The southern borders of the oil concession granted to the Iranian English Oil Company by Sheikh of Qatar does not exceed the “Green Line”, but is adjacent to the north of the Line. Therefore, the concession does not extend to any territory under discussions with the Saudi government”. Bullard apologized to his Saudi counterpart Hamza for the misunderstanding of the preceding paragraph, as the Saudis understood it contrary to the British government’s intentions [24]. The British officials also tried to show the problems that will face their government in case the Saudi government control’s of the sea entrance to the Trucial Coast, and its rapidly growing influence in the rear area of the coast in question. Therefore, several views were put forward at the time in 1938 to make Ibn Saud renounce his expansion plans. The first opinion was to ensure an early settlement of the borders issue, even if this requires assignment of Khawr al-Udayd or Mount Nakhsh to Saudi Arabia. Some British circles favored this solution. The second opinion was to object to recognizing the Saudi claim for Khawr al-Udayd, which is the inevitable result of the British statement made in 1878 that the Creek belongs to Abu Dhabi territory. In that year, assistance was provided to Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa, Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, by sending a mission to get rid of al-Udayd pirates. The pirates fled before the arrival of the mission, but it was clearly stated that the British government considered Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa to be responsible for what happened in al- Udayd, and considered the area to belong to his territory [25]. This shows that Britain, in the late thirties, was not serious in its statement that Khawr al-Udayd belongs to Saudi Arabia. It raised the issue of Khawr al-Udayd’s subordination since the end of the nineteenth century in order for the Creek to devolve upon the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.The border dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar emerged in the middle of the twentieth century. Several negotiations were conducted between the parties, including those that took place in the summer of 1951, then in 1952, after the British occupation of Khawr al-Udayd took place on behalf of Abu Dhabi in 1948. The Saudis and Qataris had two different points of view. The Saudi perspective relied on maps issued by Aramco Company, which demarcated the Saudi borders with Qatar from a point stretching 27 km north of Salwa village to 7 Km north of Khawr al-Udayd. On the other hand, the Qatari point of view relied on the maps issued by Britain, which made the Arabian Gulf emirates start from Khawr al-Udayd to the west, rather than from the longitude (30,50) to the east, with its borders stretching to a great extent to the south in the Empty Quarter. An amicable settlement on border demarcation was finally reached between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. According to the agreement, the borders start from Salwa village to Soda Nathil drawing an arc to the south, ending at the east to the north of Khawr al-Udayd. This demarcation was the same demarcation submitted by Qatar in the 1952 scheme [26]. During the roundtable conference, which was held in the city of Dammam in the end of January and early February 1952, the Saudi delegation refused, in the words of its head Prince Faisal, the argument: “that the British government’s objection to the rights of Sheikh Abu Dhabi in Khawr al-Udayd caused the transfer of sovereignty over the Creek to him”. Prince Faisal denied that Bani Yas used pastures close to Khawr al- Udayd, such as Uqal and Al-Majan, stressing that the Saudi tribes: Bani Marra, Bani Hajer, and Manaseer, which are subject to Ahsa governor, are the sole tribes that visit these areas for pasture. Faisal added that it is possible to find evidence that the Saudi authorities exercise their authority on the said coast of Khawr al-Udayd eastward [27]. During the last session of the Dammam Conference in February 14, Prince Faisal agreed on the idea proposed by the head of the British delegation, Sir Robert Hay, the British Political Resident in the Arabian Gulf, to tender the issue of “removing al-Udayd from King Saud demands” to King Saud himself, and to receive instructions from him. The conference was adjourned on the basis of mutual understanding, and the conference was never held again henceforth [28]. The Saudi government relied on some testimonies by Gulf rulers, with regard to its right to Khawr al-Udayd. One of the most prominent testimonies relied upon by Saudi officials is the testimony of the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Qassim Al Thani in 1954, where he acknowledged that Khawr al-Udayd has always belonged to Saudi Arabia; as it was affiliated in the Ottoman era to Ahsa region administration rather than to Qatar district commissioner. This is contrary to Qatar argument that Khawr al-Udayd was subordinated to it during the days of the Ottomans. It seems that the reason for making this testimony in favor of Saudi Arabia is the bad relations between Qatar and Abu Dhabi in 1954. The rulers of Qatar felt that Al Nahyan extorted this territory by force with the support of the British government. Therefore, the Qataris preferred Khawr al-Udayd to belong to Saudi Arabia, “since it is more capable to recover it than Qatar” [29]. A Saudi memorandum demonstrated that Sheikh Abdullah Bin Qassim Al Thani sent a letter on 28 March 1955 to Prince bin Galloway, Ahsa governor, in which he said: “With reference to your question about what we know about the status of al-Udayd and its residents, there is no doubt, God bless you, that all who have lived in al-Udayd in the past were Al Saud nationals, and this place belongs to Al-Saud”. He added that “the first who resided there was people called Bani Hammad and Al-Obeidal, who came from Najd and lived in al-Udayd for a long time. Then, they left the area and settled for a long period of time in Qatar. They packed up again and moved to al-Udayd, where they settled for a long time. They were Al Saud nationals and Khalifa could not fight them” [30]. In November 1958, the Saudi government objected to the British occupation of Khawr al-Udayd, following building a police post for Abu Dhabi. It stated that “the Saudi government strongly objects to this provocative and express aggression over an area that is essentially part of the Saudi territory, and protests against the continued ignorance of the rights of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. The Saudi government has demanded its British government counterparts to withdraw its troops immediately from Khawr al-Udayd, and remove all traces of construction and drilling in the area. In a letter sent by the Office of the British Foreign Office to Bahrain; it was stated that Saudi Arabia “will not recognize any rights, privileges or services claimed as a result of this aggression. The Saudi government reserves its full right to take any action that would preserve the rights of the Kingdom and defend its dignity” [31]. On 27 November 1958, the Saudi government submitted a memorandum to the President of the Security Council through its permanent delegate to the United Nations, Ahmed Shuqairi, accusing the British government of occupying Khawr al-Udayd, which is located to the south of the Arabian Gulf, and is considered a Saudi territory. Saudi Arabia considered this attack as a violation of its territorial integrity. The Saudis demanded the British forces to withdraw from “the Saudi Khawr al-Udayd.” The memorandum also stated that “Britain’s armed attack at Khawr al-Udayd is essentially a provocation of Saudi Arabia to fight in an armed conflict. The attack by the colonial military British troops against Khawr al-Udayd was preceded by arrangements of a military nature which aim at British military and colonial expansion in and around Saudi Arabia.” The Saudi representative, Shuqairi, strongly demanded the withdrawal of British troops from Khawr al-Udayd, believing that it causes disturbance to the safety and security of the Arabian Peninsula. The Saudi memorandum was circulated among members of the Security Council [32]. Saudi Arabia remained determined to claim Khawr al-Udayd throughout the1960’s and early 1970’s. Its borders with the emirate of Abu Dhabi remained outstanding and unidentified until that period. Yet, the British insisted that Mati marsh forms the borders between Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, and that “its adjacent borders start from Khawr al-Udayd at the base of the Qatar Peninsula” [33]. In July 1974, the Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates reached an agreement ensuring that Abu Dhabi waives a port for Saudi Arabia to the south of Khawr al-Udayd on the Arabian Gulf. Abu Dhabi also waived a (50) square km wide coastline in Khawr al-Udayd, where it lost its borders with Qatar [34]. A joint statement on behalf of the Saudi Arabian and the United Arab Emirates governments was issued on 21 August 1974, following Sheikh Zayed’s visit to Saudi Arabia. King Faisal and Sheikh Zayed stressed promoting cooperation between the two countries. They also signed the border agreement after its finalization. King Faisal expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the Saudi-UAE talks conducted by Prince Fahd with Sheikh Zayed in Abu Dhabi on 29 July in the same year, which ended with initializing maps showing the main points of borders between the two countries. The parties also agreed on forming a technical committee of the two parties as soon as possible to demarcate these natural borders [35]. Saudi and the UAE agreed to establish a land pathway to Saudi Arabia, reaching Khawr al-Udayd on the west coast adjacent to Abu Dhabi, so that Saudi Arabia will have on outlet on the Arabian Gulf to the east of Qatar [36]. The conflict on al- Udayd area between Saudi Arabia and Qatar was renewed in 1992, when the Government of Qatar announced in a statement issued on 30 September of the same year indicating that a Saudi military force attacked Al-Khofos post [37] (to the south of Khawr al-Udayd), killing two soldiers of the Qatari forces, and capturing a third soldier. On the other hand, the Saudi government denied, in a statement released in early October of the same year, that Al-Khofos Post experienced a military attack, and stated that there was an exchange of fire between Bedouins inside the Saudi borders, killing Qatari and Saudi people. There was more of a media war between the two parties (the Saudis and Qataris). Qatar tried to internationalize the dispute. The Qatari Foreign Minister, Hamad bin Jassim, sent a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations Boutros-Ghali calling upon him to intervene and hinting at presenting the dispute to the United Nations in case of the Saudi forces’ non-withdrawal from Al-Khofos Post [38]. By the end of 1992, optimism sparked between the Saudi and Qatari parties to the dispute to reach a solution, especially after the Qatari Foreign Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with King Fahd in Jeddah. He affirmed “Saudi Arabia’s keenness to resolve any disagreements peacefully and in complete agreement.” The Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak intervened to resolve the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Mubarak visited the two countries on 17 December of the same year, which resulted in a meeting between Prince of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and the Saudi King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz in Medina. A three-party statement was signed on 25 December in the same year between the Saudi, Qatari and Egyptian foreign ministers. As a result of this meeting, a joint Saudi Qatari committee was formed to demarcate the borders according to the map signed by the two parties showing the final border line binding upon the parties [39].

The conflict between Abu Dhabi and Qatar over Khawr al- Udayd

Abu Dhabi Sheik’s were highly interested in Khawr al-Udayd and cooperated with the British to have control over it. Consequently, in 1926, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Saqr, sent a letter to the Political Resident in the Arabian Gulf, in which he stressed his sovereignty over the Khawr al-Udayd and its areas, Al-Bushariah island, Gaga island and its affiliated islands, Dania island and its territories [40]. The British documents demonstrate that until the beginning of the thirties of the twentieth century, the land borders were not demarcated between Qatar and Abu Dhabi. The border line between the two sides had no importance requiring demarcation of borders. This is due to the fact that the area had no significance, as it was barren and devoid of water and population, except for some tribes that appeared in specific seasons, looking for pastures for camels, or some fishermen on the coast of Khawr al-Udayd itself [41]. This shows that the importance of Khawr al-Udayd appeared only after the Western (British and American) attempts to explore for oil in the Gulf region. In 1903, the British Government of India considered that the southern borders of Qatar start from Khawr al-Udayd towards the southern coast to the Trucial Coast chiefdoms. It also considered that starting from Sakakah wells, the line that runs east towards the south to the southern edge of Niqian sand hills in the northern side of Khawr al-Udayd entrance constitute the southern borders of Qatar. India office issued a confidential memorandum on 17 February 1934 recommending the consideration of the southern Qatari borders “as a line extending into the southern edge of the peninsula from a point not to the south of the latitude, which is located over Doha Salwa Bay to a point to the south of the northern edge of Khawr al-Udayd Gulf”. The ruler of Qatar claimed this border. The memorandum concluded that the borders between Qatar and Abu Dhabi were previously contested. Abu Dhabi chiefdoms demanded sovereignty over part of Qatar territory extending to the north of Um Al-Hawl beach to the south of Al-Wakra. The ruler of Qatar demanded sovereignty over an area belonging to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi extending eastward until Mati marsh. The British government has refused to recognize the demands of the parties. However, the British officials admitted that “Khawr al-Udayd, which is located halfway between the two mentioned points, belongs to Abu Dhabi”. Accordingly, Khawr al-Udayd is a fixed point to the southeastern borders of Qatar [42].

The Sheikh of Abu Dhabi considered that his territories extend to the north of Khawr al-Udayd, as outlined by the owner of the Oil Limited Company in the Gulf (Longrigg) at the end of February 1938. Yet, the Company was not really interested in that region, since it “has less geographical value than the other lands they were dealing with. Nevertheless, one should not at all rule out the idea of finding oil in that area”. As pointed out by Longrig, the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi had a minor authority on land, and he relied on Britain’s support to maintain his independence from other powers; such as Ibn Saud [43].The British Political Resident in the Arabian Gulf, head of the British delegation, Robert Hay, during a roundtable conference held in Dammam at the end of January 1952, made a proposal during the third session concerning the boundaries claimed by the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi. During the fourth session, the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi explained that all who were arriving on the coast at Khawr al-Udayd considered the Creek to be of his property and anyone who wants to fish on the coast has to get a license from the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi himself. For example, a member of Al-Remeithan tribe, a branch of Bani Yas, obtained the permission of the Sheikh to fish on the coast between Khawr al-Udayd and Ras Al-Hamra for an annual fee of (350) Rupees between (1945-1946), and there was never a Saudi fisherman on this coast. In the same meeting, Hay pointed out that the British government has long recognized, and on specific occasions, the authority of the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi over Khawr al-Udayd. On the other hand, the head of the delegation, Prince Faisal, challenged these claims, during the fifth session, which was held on 2 February of the same year, and stressed that Saudi tribes; such as Bani Marra, Al- Manaseer and Bani Hajer, subject to the governor of Ahsa, Prince Saud bin Galloway, are the sole tribes that visit these areas in pursuit of pasture. Prince Faisal also rejected the issue of fishing rights and issuing fishing licenses by the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, since it serves as proof of Abu Dhabi’s sovereignty over the whole coast of Khawr al-Udayd to the east [44]. During the aforementioned roundtable conference, the head of the British delegation, Hay, on behalf of the Sheikh of Qatar, Ali Abdullah Al-Thani, demanded the limits claimed by the Sheikh of Qatar, which are located at a line starting at Al-Bareed Ghar at Doha Salwa, moving eastward across three points which he named, namely; Hazim Soda Nathil, then across Aqlat Al-Manasir [45], to a point located on the west coast of Khawr al-Udayd. By this line, Hay intended for Qatar to maintain that area of land which is 25 miles deep located at the base of the Qatar peninsula, including Khawral-Udayd. The Saudi side included it in its demands in 1949 [46]. The Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Shakhboot, decided, in late September 1958, to set up a police post on al-Udayd peninsula, to the south of the Creek, at the end of the Qatar peninsula, mandated with controlling the Qatari boats that used to fish in Khawr al-Udayd. Sheikh Shakhboot decided to grant a limited number of fishing licenses for Qatari boats to regulate the fishing process. The establishment of the police post was completed at the end of October of the same year [47]. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Shakhboot, in early December 1958, also requested to see the British Political Agent in the Arabian Gulf, following holding the conciliatory council of the chiefdoms of the Omani coast in the first of December of the same year. Sheikh Shakhboot desired to lodge a complaint against setting up a Qatari post on the northern coast of Khawr al-Udayd. Shakhboot held the British responsible for this; accusing them of not taking any action to prevent the Qatari attacks against him in Al-Halol, Mesaieed, and Qatar post; in addition to creating another post in Aqla Al-Manaseer. Sheikh Shakhboot claimed his right of the British oil company, indicating that it there was “no enmity between him, Sheikh Ali and the Qataris”. The British Political Resident requested Sheikh Shakhboot to exercise patience; as he was “extremely upset” [48]. The complaints by the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Shakhboot, increased due to the establishment of the Qatari post on the northern coast of the Arabian Gulf, and Aqlat Manaseer post “which is part of the undisputed territory of Qatar” as reported by the British documents. The British authorities were afraid of the reaction of Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Ali, who was at odds with Sheikh Shakhboot. The British authorities also feared the Saudi intervention in the same region, which “undoubtedly will lead to serious complications if we do not show our position towards (Sheikh Shakhboot’s) exaggerated demands” [49].

Thus, the land Qatari borders, which extend at the base of the Qatar peninsula, became the subject of conflict between: Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia on the one hand, and Qatar and Abu Dhabi, on the other. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi considered that its borders stretch for a long distance on the east coast of Qatar peninsula, while the Qataris considered that borders end at a point to the south of Khawr al-Udayd entrance. There were no prior agreements between Qatar and Abu Dhabi on the borders. The two countries concluded an agreement to make their borders extend in the middle of Khawr al-Udayd. The parties also agreed that each has the right to use the Creek, provided that the Qatari southern borders extend from Ras Khawr Ghurab until Soda Nathil wells, then moving southward. It was also possible to determine the maritime area. The boundary line extended in a way that made Bunduq island on Abu Dhabi side, in which oil exploitation is carried out jointly, and with the proceeds distributed equally between the two parties [50].

Britain’s policy towards the conflict on Khawr al-Udayd

The reason for the British intervention in the Arab al-Udayd region was to put an end to the Ottoman expansion for fear of its extension to the coast of the Omani coast chiefdoms. If Britain did not interfere, the Arab chiefdoms in the west coast of the Arabian Gulf would be encouraged to claim independence. In addition, Britain’s interest in the area stems from its concern that some rebellious tribes would take Khawr al-Udayd as refuge for their land activities, if the Ottoman Empire was allowed to expand its operations and influence beyond that region on the west coast of the Arabian Gulf. This will turn the indirect Ottomans control, on the coastal tribes, to direct control, thus weakening the foreign forces control there [51]. This was confirmed by Sir McMahon when he said: “Recognizing the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire in Qatar will give them footholds in the Arabian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula, thus enabling them to intervene in the affairs of the chiefdoms in the future” [52]. The Government of India warned the British officials in London in July 1877, and drew their attention to the fact that Qatar coasts are insecure due to the prevailing maritime disputes originated by Bani Hagar and Bani Marra which belong to the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, the British Political Resident in the Arabian Gulf provided military assistance to the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi and his campaign on Khawr al-Udayd against Qubeisat. When the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi attacked Khawr al-Udayd in March 1878, the British government instructed the warfare ship (Tears) to move to Bushehr port. The British Political Resident asked the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi to mobilize the largest possible number of his men to Cafai island to meet the British Resident and his men. The aim was to inform the Sheikh of Qubeisat that resistance is not possible, and to surrender along with his men. The British Resident was soon informed that the Sheikh of Qubesat together with his men left Khawr al-Udayd area and took away all their belongings [53]. In that era, according to Lord Corson, Britain considered the Ottoman presence in Qatar and Khawr al-Udayd as a threat enhancing the Ottomans position in the Arabian Gulf, thus constituting a military occupation of a British influence area. Lord Garding, Viceroy of India, stated that “the British rejection to recognize Turkey’s position in Qatar means that the Porte does not have any right there, and that the Turkish garrison in Qatar serves as a prison, rather than protection, and does not maintain but rather adversely affects the status quo” [54]. The British government began to show concern with the borders issue between Saudi Arabia and Qatar in 1934, in view of the activities of California Arabian Standard Oil Company adjacent to the Qatari borders. The Company began its exploration operations in al-Ahsa, when the British outlined that the legal borders between Qatar and Saudi Arabia is the “Blue Line” [55]. The British protested to the operations of the Arabian American Oil Company near Salwa Palace. Consequently, the Saudis explained that the Company’s operations were confined to the eastern line, and that the operation “will not exceed the land located east of the borders offered by Her Majesty’s government to the Saudi government” [56,57]. This reflects that Britain’s interest in the borders commenced in mid-thirties, with the increased British-American competition on oil exploration. This conferred clear political and economic significance to the area between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. On 27 November 1935, the British Minister in Jeddah, Bullard, met the Saudi Minister, Sheikh Hafiz Wahba, and addressed the issue of the south-eastern borders of the Arabian Peninsula, especially in terms of Qatar’s oil. Bullard explained to Sheikh Wahbeh that a limited area only was assigned to the Saudis, which “slightly exceeds the maximum claimed limits by King Abdul Aziz, but it does not actually reach to what it considers as the actual borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar”. Bullard explained that Sheikh Wahba did not object, during the meeting, to the discussions which have taken place between the two sides on the Saudi-Qatari borders [58]. During Rendell’s visit to the city of Jeddah and meeting the Saudi Foreign Minister, Sheikh Yusuf Yassin, in March 1937, talks were held between the two sides, with particular focus on Mount Nakhsh and Khawr al-Udayd. Rendell stated that “Khawr al-Udayd has been a territory of Abu Dhabi at least since the seventies of the nineteenth century”. He added that the Saudi claim for Khawr al- Udayd based on Fouad Hamza statement that “Saudi Arabia intends to develop the Creek economically” is unsubstantial; since it is not fit for use as a port at all. It is essential for Abu Dhabi to own the part remote from the coast, since it secures its land connection with the neighboring Qatari chiefdoms” [59]. This confirms that the British were unwilling to grant Khawr al-Udayd to Saudi Arabia. California Standard Oil Company was drilling for oil in Salwa and the British government requested resuming the negotiations anew [60]. In the context of British attempts to settle differences with Ibn Saud, the British Political Resident in Bushehr, TC Fowl, sent a letter on 16 December 1938 to the Government of India, in which he presented the issue of assigning the area adjacent to the Khawr al-Udayd to Ibn Saud, considering that Saudi Arabia began to explore for oil in a booming field in al-Ahsa and in Ras Tanura port. The Political Resident Fowl pointed out that “there is reason to believe that the very dubious port gift in Khawr al-Udayd will be of little impact on Ibn Saud’s attitude towards His Majesty’s Government in general or towards the desired settlement of the border issue in particular” [61]. On 22 December 1938, the British government suggested providing facilities to the Saudi government; including the assignment of Khawr al-Udayd to the British to reach a solution with regard to the southeast borders of Saudi Arabia. This aimed at ensuring good faith on the part of King Abdul Aziz Al Saud in the other matters related to Britain [62]. In addition, the British government tried to make certain proposals related to Sheikh of Abu Dhabi pertinent to the assignment of Khawr al-Udayd to Saudi Arabia at the end of the thirties. In order to overcome the difficulties resulting from the aforementioned pledge made by Britain to Sheikh Abu Dhabi, several proposals were made, including: First: Proposing material compensation for the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, although the Saudi government experienced financial distress at the time. Second: Clarifying to the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi the permanent advantages of reaching a final settlement with respect to his borders with Saudi Arabia, compared to upholding the area that has questionable usefulness, which will not generate any revenue, and over which he will not be able to exercise any kind of power. Britain reinforced its aforesaid proposals by referring to setting a definite limit for the Saudi expansion in Abu Dhabi territory, through “an immediate settlement, even if this takes assignment of Khawr al-Udayd, to avoid the risk of more encroachments by Ibn Saud on the Sheikh territory”. The British authorities predicted that these considerations, in particular the growing authority of Ibn Saud, will be of importance to the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, taking into account the fact that the British government was able to impose pressure on Sheikh Abu Dhabi in consideration for his protection and maintaining his independence from the Ibn Saud [62]. Notwithstanding the aforementioned directions of the London Government, the British government in India was concerned about the issue of assigning Khawr al-Udayd to Ibn Saud. In early February 1938, it suggested soliciting the opinion of the British authorities in the Gulf, especially the (Political Resident and agents). The Government of India highlighted several points to be taken into account, namely:

a. The political objections to assign Khawr al-Udayd in favor of Ibn Saud.

b. The issue of settling of the border issue and obtaining the approval of Ibn Saud in general.

c. The main difficulty relating to the pledge given to the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, and the nature of communications that must be made with the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, in the case of adopting the idea of assigning Khawr al-Udayd. The Office of the British Government of India added that assigning Khawr al-Udayd may dramatically foster the position of Ibn Saud in the Arabian Gulf region. It warned of the Saudi attempts to get the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi close to them, and the resulting risks. The other important point, which was highlighted by the India Office was that “in case of assigning the Creek to Saudi Arabia, this would deprive Qatar of any protection of its territory except through his territory”. The India Office declined, according to the opinion of the local authorities, to exercise pressure on the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi to assign Khawr al-Udayd; because he wants to get financial compensation in return for assigning the Creek, and this of course would compel the British government to pay the money to the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi [60]. Britain’s interest in Khawr al-Udayd increased during World War II (1939-1945) in order to use it as a maritime base. The British interest requires “keeping the Emirates under British protection, which extends continuously from Qatar to Muscat without interruption. This ensures the absence of any foreign areas in the coastal road, which is the only line of communication between the Trucial coast and Qatar”. The British documents underestimated the “minor strategic importance of Qatar, in spite of the possibility of its increasing importance in the future, if oil is discovered in that region”. The British officials warned of assigning the Khawr al-Udayd to Ibn Saud; because it “would keep Qatar more isolated, considering that most part of its lands will had to pass through Sauid Arabia”. This is the reality of the situation now, as there is no land port for Qatar except through the territory of Saudi Arabia. In light of the foregoing, it is evident that Britain, for military purposes related to the emerging signs of World War 2, and for political reasons, was not inclined to give Khawr al-Udayd to Ibn Saud, and was afraid of angering Al Thani of Qatar. With regard to Britain’s peaceful procedures to solve the issue of Khawr al-Udayd, in June 1939, the British Foreign Ministry referred the dispute over Khawr al-Udayd to arbitration [62]. The proposal was new and unfamiliar, according to the Minister of the Government of British India. He stated that “its impact on Ibn Saud and the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi will be affected by the history of this conflict. It is surprising for Ibn Saud for the Government of His Majesty to propose referring the matter to arbitration”. The Government of India warned of Ibn Saud reaction on arbitration, and that he “will doubt that the Government of His Majesty arbitration proposal simply aims to turn down his demands, whereupon he can either rejects the proposal or gets upset with the idea of dragging him into an evident trap if he agrees to the proposal”. As for the reaction of the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi to the arbitration proposal, the Government of India believed that “he may be shocked by the decision of His Majesty’s Government to refer the matter suddenly to another authority and he may doubt the government motivation. So, the Sheikh may reject this proposal, unless he is assured that the referral is only to confirm that the decision will be in his favor and against Ibn Saud”. The Government of India believed that the British officials’ proposal in London, regarding Khawr al-Udayd issue and their insistence on its referral to arbitration; “will cause damage to Britain position in the Arabian Gulf and the sheikhs of the Arabian Peninsula coast, since it is interpreted as a waiver of the vulnerable parties interests protected by His Majesty’s Government in order to stratify the stronger neighbor”. This conclusion was based on that the arbitration award may be in favor of Ibn Saud; therefore, the Government of India considered “that there is no gain from the proposal of referring the matter to an independent tribunal”. There was an objection to the arbitration issue proposed by the British government to be conducted between Ibn Saud and the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi. The Government of India felt that the arbitration proposal will not be welcomed by Ibn Saud, and that presenting the matter to the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi “will have a negative impact on its standing with the Arab Sheikhs in the Arabian Gulf”. The British Political Resident in the Arabian Gulf warned of referring the issue of Khawr al-Udayd to Arbitration, because it “will set a precedent for neglecting the other requirements of the territory of the Arab Gulf rulers who enjoy the protection of His Majesty’s Government”. The Government of India indicated that raising doubts about the intentions of the British in the minds of the Arab rulers in the Gulf “may be equally dangerous to our interests in the Middle East, from a strategic point of view, to the risk of the Saudi government dissatisfaction in the event we maintain our position”. Finally, the officials of the British Government of India suggested suspending the arbitration issue at that time; in order to avoid the Gulf governments rebellion against them, especially the Saudi government [60]. In 1947, the British Royal Navy, scanned the Arabian Gulf coast from Khawr al-Udayd to Khawr Qantour, 25 miles to the south-west of Abu Dhabi, without any observations or comments by the Saudi government. In winter 1947, the Petroleum Concessions Company for oil exploration in the sheikhdoms of Abu Dhabi carried out exploration works in Abu Dhabi, and scanned the coast from Marfa’ and Rowais until Khawr al-Udayd to a depth of 28 miles. The Saudi government raised no objections to these works. Furthermore, the survey teams did not find any trace of the Saudi management there. However, no sooner had one year and a half passed than the Saudi government started demanding the entire region, and claimed that it has always been a Saudi area since the eighteenth century [61]. By the end 1958, the British Political Resident in Bahrain confirmed that al-Udayd is an undisputed island of Abu Dhabi, although Saudi Arabia has claimed its sovereign right in this part of the coast. The British officials in the Gulf informed Sheikh Shakhboot (by the end of 1938) not to interfere with the legitimate fishing activities, in view of the Ruler of Qatar protest against the establishment of a police post there. Worsnop delivered a notification to Sheikh Shakhboot that caused considerable unrest at the time. Consequently, Hawley contacted Sheikh Shakhboot and found him quieter than before, but Sheikh Shakhboot asked Hawley to request the British authorities to restore his borders, and demanded realizing justice. Afterwards, Hawley sent Shakhboot a letter informing him that his police officials should not interfere with the Qatari boats, which are used to fishing in Khawr al-Udayd. On 7 October 1958, the Qatari police chief Cochrane visited Khawr al-Udayd, and declared that he faced no difficulty and observed no interventions [61]. Nonetheless, the Saudi government’s interest in Khawr al-Udayd at the end of 1958 prompted the British officials in the Arabian Gulf to consider the Ruler of Abu Dhabi complaint. In a telegram sent by the post office to Dubai on 5 December of the same year, it was evident that the British government was committed to preserve the rights of the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, and the remaining rights of the sheikhs of the Omani cost who had treaty relations with Britain. The telegram pointed out that the ruler of Qatar has the right to establish police posts in the south of Qatar island, and that the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi has no right to intervene with the fishermen in Khawr al-Udayd and informed him of this issue [62]. This shows that Britain began in this period to be inclined to give the ruler of Qatar unlimited authority over Khawr al-Udayd, while eliminating the ruler of Abu Dhabi authority over the same area. The point of view of the British Political Resident in Dubai with respect to the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi interest in Khawr al-Udayd, and the corresponding other British views, was to avoid provocation and escalation policy in the disputed Khawr al-Udayd area at the end of 1958. The British officials in the Arabian Gulf, particularly in the chiefdoms of the Omani coast, realized that Sheikh Shakhboot did not think beyond Khawr al-Udayd, warning at the same time of declaring that the Sheikh of Qatar has “right’ to create posts on the northern coast of the UAE, in order to avoid provoking Sheikh Shakhboot, who believed then, by the end of 1958, “that the borders should be kept open as usual” [61]. The British government, through its representative in the Security Council, Pearson Dixon, tried to refute the statement made by the Saudi representative in the Security Council about Khawr al-Udayd incident. Dixon indicated that Saudi statements “were erroneous about the situation in Khawr al-Udayd area, which is part of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and is under the authority of Her Majesty’s Government”. He also explained that his Government responded to the Saudis, as the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jeddah received the reply on November 19, 1958. He indicated that the British response “does not recognize the absolute right of Saudi Arabia to develop scenarios for the area in question (Khawr al-Udayd) since it constitutes a part of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi”. Dixon explained to the Security Council members that “no British troops or forces under the supervision of the United Kingdom occupied Khawr al-Udayd”. What happened is that in October of the same year, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi set up a post including forty people in Khawr al-Udayd, in order to monitor fishing in the area. The British representative denied the presence of any British officers or employees in Abu Dhabi Police force [62]. The developments that have taken place in 1958, the concomitant establishment of a police post by the ruler of Abu Dhabi in Khawr al- Udayd to regulate fishing, the Qatari step of creating another post in the same area, and the Saudi government’s protest that the British troops occupied Khawr al-Udayd at the same time, provoked the issue of Khawr al-Udayd, which became linked to Al-Buraimi oasis issue. In this regard, Britain proposed, in mid-1959, removing the two police posts in Khawr al-Udayd set up by the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh of Qatar, to avoid going into any dispute over the region, which serves the interest of all parties concerned: Britain, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.


The military and economic strategic significance of Khawr al- Udayd emerged by the end of the nineteenth century, with the end of the Ottoman presence in the Arabian Gulf. Concurrently, the British attempted to take control of the Gulf by holding Exclusive Agreements with the Sheikhs of the Gulf emirates in general. This prompted the British to end the Ottoman presence, thereby ejecting them from the Arabian Gulf region as a whole. Saudi Arabia was the Gulf state most interested in Khawr al-Udayd, following the discovery of oil in the Arabian Gulf. The Saudis tried to control the Creek by claiming its historical affiliation with Saudi Arabia based on the existence of tribes that belonged to Al Saud. Yet, the British government prevented the Saudis from having control over the Creek and discouraged their expansion plans toward the Creek. It entered into negotiations with the Saudi government, and adopted various diplomatic approaches in this regard. It succeeded in preventing the Saudis from taking control of Khawr al-Udayd, despite the Saudi deep interest in the Creek, as demonstrated by this study. Britain demarcated the borders between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and kept Khawr al-Udayd within Qatari sovereignty. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi was also interested in Khawr al- Uday. The Ruler of Abu Dhabi repeatedly asked the British authorities to control the Creek. Although the British officials have stated on more than one occasion that the Creek belongs to the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, they were wary of provoking Ibn Saud and Al-Thani of Qatar. Thus, they were not officially committed to assisting the Ruler of Abu Dhabi and giving him unlimited authority over Khawr al-Udayd. On the other hand, the British government supported the Qatari claims to Khawr al- Udayd. During the Saudi-Qatari dispute, and the Qatari disagreement with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the British government stood by Qatar and supported it on several occasions, especially in terms of organizing fishing in Khawr al-Udayd, and setting up a police post therein. There is no doubt that Britain played a major role in the Khawr al-Udayd issue, and contributed to reducing the tension between the conflicting forces in Khawr al-Udayd. It long procrastinated the issue of control of Khawr al-Udayd by the Saudis, and succeeded in distracting them. While recognizing that Khawr al-Udayd historically belongs to Abu Dhabi, Britain stood by the Qataris by giving them unlimited authority in Khawr al-Udayd. This served Britain interests in the Arabian Gulf, after the discovery of oil and the emergence of new international forces interested in the Gulf, such as the USA. A recommendations can be made, here, is to adopt some projects in order to develop the area of Khawr al-Udayd. It is assumed that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates should invest in Khawr al-Udayd by making it as a tourist destination for the neighboring countries citizens and host different activities (i.e. sand skiing, other GCC sport activities etc.). In addition, they can make a mutual economic cooperation in Khawr al-Udayd (i.e. industrial factories: fish factories, heavy structures economic factories, etc.). Furthermore, one of the significant geographical location of Khawr al-Udayd is far enough from the Iranian territorial boundaries which can be developed as a port that serves the three countries (Figures 3 and 4).


Figure 3: Khawr al-Udayd Geographical Location.


Figure 4: Historical claims of Khawr al-Udayd.


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