2
The Town of the Consuls

I BEGAN this Arabian interlude in my career hoping to gain from it a deeper understanding of Indonesian spiritual life and so return to the Colonial Service better prepared for the nationalist movement that was then dawning in the Dutch East Indies. But I was also attracted to the spiritual and geographical centre of Islam as a proud rival of Christianity in its claim to provide the remedy for the ailments of this world. To be in Jedda meant to me not only meeting the real Arab, but it also meant contact with Muslims from all over the Muslim world. It meant especially contact with Indonesians and peoples I had never seen before and would never see again as a Colonial Civil Servant. Last, but not least, it meant contact with colleagues representing nations quite unfamiliar to me. The Western colonial powers had attached to their staffs Vice-Consuls and Pilgrim Officers from the important Muslim countries of their dominions. I think that my European colleagues -- with whom my wife and I had such happy relations -- will forgive me if I say that it was in their Pilgrim Officers, rather than in themselves, and in the colleagues of non-European powers that I was particularly interested.

European colleagues, if I may say so without offence, tend to run to a type and I had met the type many times before in the deadly monotony of hotel life, in the boring confinement of passenger liners and in those places where Westerners out in the East inevitably meet. Jedda gave me the opportunity of meeting the others, the men who had a humbler, a secondary sphere of action in a world still ruled by the white men from Europe. In Jedda I met men who resented the nations to which they belonged being rated as second class. They were proud of their

-13-

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The Wells of Ibn Sa'ud
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Author's Acknowledgements viii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - I Meet Wahhabi Arabia 7
  • 2 - The Town of the Consuls 13
  • 3 - The Desert Plant of Wahhabism 29
  • 4 - The Emergence of Ibn Sa'Ud 37
  • 5 - Consolidation 54
  • 6 - First Contacts with Great Britain 69
  • 7 - The Dual Monarchy 86
  • 8 - First Wahhabi Impacts 102
  • 9 - The Pilgrimage 114
  • 10 - The Arrival of the Americans 127
  • 11 - The Palestine Problem 149
  • 12 - The Arab League 167
  • 13 - Interlude and Return to Arabia 174
  • 14 - The Americans in Arabia 185
  • 15 - Agriculture and Water 203
  • 16 - The Last Audience 220
  • 17 - A Visit to Amir Sa'Ud 231
  • 18 - The Last Visit 240
  • 19 - Ibn Sa'Ud's Inheritance 247
  • Glossary 259
  • Index 265
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