Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Coins, Weights and Measures in the Arabian Gulf during the European Commercial Activity Period 1600-1800

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Coins, Weights and Measures in the Arabian Gulf during the European Commercial Activity Period 1600-1800

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examines the coins, weights and measures used in the Gulf region during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as the region attracted traders from different nationalities during this period: Portuguese, English, Dutch and Indians. Some local people and people from the surrounding areas, such as Arabs, Persians, Turks and others practiced commercial activities in the region. Of course, all of them were paying for the goods they buy, which made the region teeming with different types of coins. That, in turn, made it somewhat complicated for researchers to find out the exact value of those coins, as well as to determine the time periods during which those currencies came to the region or for how long they were in use in commercial transactions. Despite the fact that the weights and measures that had been used in the region during the study period were varied, changing over time, and influenced-positively or negatively-by the surrounding states and countries, but we can talk more confidently thereon than currencies which were exchanged in the region.

It's worth mentioning herein; that many resources, references and reports, that have been referred to herein state many currencies and measures which had not necessarily been used although it was existed, also there were currencies, measurements and weights that were not mentioned therein.

Keywords: coins, weights, measures, the European commercial activity, the Gulf

1. Introduction

Two large monopolistic European commercial companies were established during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, namely: the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company. The first has got its concession from Queen Elizabeth I in 1600, and the second got its concession from the Dutch government in 1602 (Amin ,1987).

Trade was the main objective of all European companies; buying Eastern goods and exporting it to European markets. It was not the policy of the directors of the two companies; English and the Dutch, in London and Amsterdam to be involved in any political or military commitments or any attempt of domination and occupation. Such practices may prevent the establishment of favorable conditions for profitable business, which indeed shall dispel the profits which such companies may acquire (Ibid).

During the period of commercial activities of European companies in the Arabian Gulf, the Arabian Gulf region attracted traders from different nationalities; Portuguese, English, Dutch and Indians. Some natives and other people of adjacent regions; Arabs, Persians, Turks etc., used to transacting commercial business as well. No doubt, all these traders were paying money for the goods & commodities they used to buy, which made the region packed of various types of Coins. (Al-Ma'ani, 2001).

2. Coins

Before identifying the different exchanged currencies during the period of European commercial activities in the Arabian Gulf region, we must say that it is very difficult to know their exact value. It is also difficult to determine the time periods in which these currencies entered the region or for how long they were in use in commercial transactions. There are other issues of utmost importance that make it impossible to secure or guarantee full accuracy in studying currencies issues. There are key points herein that we have to consider as follows;

First: The Asian currency and calculation units were varied and very complicated. Although the rates of European trading transactions during the seventeenth and eighteenth century did not witness speculation or strong fluctuation, however the European trading companies adopted accounting methods in line with its National currency standards. On the other hand, whereas the matter is relating to payment units through certain coins or accounting unit, it becomes difficult or even impossible to fix certain exchange rate, as the silver or coins prices are subject to fluctuation and strong speculations. …

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