The British became the dominant power in the Arab Gulf in the late eighteenth century. The conventional view has justified British imperial expansion in the Gulf region because of the need to supress Arab piracy. This book, first published in 1988, challenges the myth of piracy and argues that its threat was created by the East India Company for commercial reasons. The Company was determined to increase its share of Gulf trade with India at the expense of the native Arab traders, especially the Qawasim of the lower Gulf. However, the Company did not possess the necessary warships and needed to persuade the British Government to commit the Royal Navy to achieve this dominance. Accordingly the East India Company orchestrated a campaign to misrepresent the Qawasim as pirates who threatened all maritime activity in the northern Indian Ocean and adjacent waters. Any misfortune that happened to any ship in the area was attributed to the ‘Joasmee pirates’. This campaign was to lead eventually to the storming of Ras al-Khaimah and the destruction of the Qawasim. Based on extensive use of the Bombay Archives, previously unused by researchers, this book provides a thorough reinterpretation of a vital period in Gulf history. It also illuminates the style and method of the East India Company at a critical period in the expansion of the British Empire.
Table of Contents
1. The Arabian Gulf in the Eighteenth Century 2. Accusations of ‘Piracy’, 1797-1806 3. The Attack on Ras al-Khaimah, 1809 4. Negotiations and Treaty, 1814 5. The Destruction of the Qawasim, 1819