The Trucial Coast in the Nineteenth Century
What Impact did the British have on the Economy and Politics of the Trucial Coast in the Nineteenth Century?
The Trucial Coast has a long and interesting history that is linked to many different states and rulers. It has given a start for the development of a powerful country such as the United Arab Emirates. It has also set a successful example of the state’s development after a long period of empire’s influence and slow improvements. The Trucial Coast had a direct link to the British Empire that used this territory as a way to make profits as well as guarantee safe trade and exchange with other regions of the empire.
The British Empire had a protectorate over the Trucial Coast for a long period of time that started in 1820. Then, it was British Empire that signed an agreement with some of the sheikhdoms and established the territory that became known as the Trucial Coast. This area included the regions to the South East of the Persian Gulf that turned out to be rich with oil and pearls. Before the treaty, the territory was known as the Pirate Coast, and it was known for the local attacks on the foreign ships like the ones coming from Great Britain. Two hundred years before the agreement with the British Empire were also a time during which some of the biggest cities that exist until now were founded (Power, & Sheehan, 2011). The region was influenced by the Portuguese authorities for a long time before British get a hold of it (Potts, 2012). The fact that the British could not send their ships and connect with others parts of the empire like India easily because of the instability and attacks at the Pirate Coast was the initial reason why they decided to sign a treaty with the authorities of the region. At first, the agreement was very unclear since it did not include an explanation of the British Empire’s direct influence. Also, it was not indicated what the empire could and could not do as the country that was guaranteeing protection for the region. At the start, the territories simply allied with the British Empire, and only in 1892 they made an Exclusive Agreement. It stated that the British would protect the territories from any outside invasions and serve as international defenders of the region. In return, the local authorities would cooperate with the British and guarantee safety for the British ships and tradesmen. Besides, no other country could influence the territory, and the sheiks could not make any other agreements with foreign authorities.
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The treaty had a significant impact on the territory development, and it influenced the history of the countries that made up that region. At first, the British were not very much involved in the region as long as it was safe, and there were no aggression towards the British tradesmen. Nevertheless, even in the beginning, they brought many changes to the territory. First of all, the conflicts between local authorities such as sheiks were solved by the British authorities putting the territory into the sphere of the international protectorate. Besides, the sheiks had British officials working with them in the region. They stayed in the region in order to monitor its development as well as determine whether the sheiks were following the treaty requirements. At first, they did not have a lot of influence since everything on the local level was determined by the sheiks, but with more involvement from the British Empire, the importance of the local authorities has increased.
For instance, the British forbid slavery in the region, and that was a major change for the region’s economic development. Many people in the Trucial Coast area were profiting from slavery, so the fact that they could no longer do it has affected their financial situation a lot. Many people lost their ways of making money; and besides, it changed the mentality in the area greatly. The British also participated in building many cities and writing the history of the region due to the fact that British historiography was very well developed for that time (Hellyear, 2012).
Nevertheless, it was the pearl industry that had a major economic impact on the region, and that became well-developed thanks to the British influence. Before the British, it was difficult to develop this industry since pearl prices were very unstable. Nevertheless, after the British brought stability and innovations to the region, it was possible to develop the industry faster (Carter, 2012). Thanks to the British, the industry developed making the region one of the world leaders in the pearls sphere and allowing it to make significant profits out of it.
Another important thing that took place during the British protectorate was a development of oil resources in the region. When the British found it, they became much more involved in the area development. For instance, they opened some ports and started building facilities in the region where oil was found. Besides, when the Saudis had disputes with Omani sheiks in regards of oil territories, it was the British army that settled the dispute and removed Saudis from the oil area. In the middle of the twentieth century, many English consortiums started operating in the oil regions, making profits and developing the industry further. British also had a political impact on the region by removing the Abu Dhabi sheik in 1966 since he was not developing the region in effective way, and was not acting as it was expected by the British authorities.
Thus, it is safe to say that the British Empire did have a big impact on the economic and political development of the region. Serving as an international protectorate, it defended the region from influence of other states that could use these territories for their own purposes. Besides, it served as a guarantee of stability within the region settling all of the disputes and conflicts between the sheiks. Whenever there were disagreements, discussions or fights between the local rulers, the authorities from the British Empire would intervene and put a stop to it. Thanks to it, the region was able to develop without major conflicts and land issues.
Also, thanks to the British influence, the region was finally freed from slavery and piracy that were widespread in the area. Since the sheiks were influenced by the British authorities, they had to follow many requirements of the British that helped developing human rights in the area.
It is also important to add that the British Empire enabled the region to develop many of the industries that helped it to grow economically. For instance, it was thanks to the British Empire that the region finally strengthened its pearl industry. It was also thanks to British influence when the oil was discovered and used as a means to develop the territories. Of course, not everything of the British influence was positive, and, in fact, it was met with a lot of resistance from local authorities and the population for whom the British rule was alien. Thus, it is quite logical that in 1968, the British decided to stop its protectorate policies over the region granting the states in it full independence and allowing them to develop the way they wanted using the resources for their own needs. Thanks to that, the countries were able to develop greatly, and with the profits from oil and other industries, they could improve other spheres, too. UEA’s coastal policies can serve as good examples of such improvements (Blue et al., 2013). Thus, it is possible to say that thanks to the British influence, and then, its decision to free the states, they were able to develop the way they are now.