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British India – Trucial Sheikhdoms relations

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Trucial Arabia—British India relations
British Raj
  Trucial Coast
  British India
Stamp of the Emirate Dubai; 1964; commemorative stamp of the issue to the "1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo".
British Residency of the Persian Gulf headquarters in Bushire in 1902.

By 1966, the British government had come to the conclusion that it could no longer afford to govern what is now the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. Much deliberation took place in the British parliament, with a number of MPs arguing that the Royal Navy would not be able to defend the Trucial Sheikhdoms.

"The Fighting Clans of our Indian Empire,"


1961 Trucial States stamps, denominated in Gulf rupees.

Harold Wilson's announcement, on the 16th of January in 1968, that all British troops were to be withdrawn from "East of Suez", signaled the end of Great Britain taking administrative care of foreign policy and Defence, as well as arbitrating between the rulers of the Eastern Persian Gulf.

The decision pitched the Sheikh Rulers of the Trucial Coast, together with Qatar and Bahrain, into fevered negotiations to fill the political vacuum that the British withdrawal would leave behind.[1]

TSC meeting, circa 1969.

The principle of Union was first agreed between the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Rashid of Dubai on the 18th of February in 1968 meeting in an encampment at Argoub Al Sedirah, near Al Semeih, a desert stop between the two emirates.[2] The two agreed to work towards bringing the other Emirates, including Qatar and Bahrain, closer into the Union. Over the next two years, negotiations and meetings of the rulers followed—often stormy—as a form of union was thrashed out. The Nine-state Union was never to recover from the October 1969 meeting where British intervention resulted in a walk-out by Qatar and Ras Al Khaimah.[3] Bahrain and Qatar were to drop out of talks, leaving only six emirates to agree on union on the 18th of July in 1971.

Flag of the Union of Gulf Emirates, the Seven-pointed star refers to the seven Emirates.

On the 2nd of December in 1971, Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah joined in the Act of Union to form the United Arab Emirates. The Seventh Emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, officially joined the UAE on the 10th of February in 1972 respectively. This change was due to the Iranian seizure of the islands Greater and Lesser Tunbs from Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Musa which was claimed by the Emirate of Sharjah. The Iranian occupation of the three islands occurred on the 30th of November in 1971 following the British withdrawal.

British India and Bahrain and Its Dependencies[edit]

Bahrain—British India relations
British Raj
  British India

The country has been headed since 1783 by the al-Khalifah family, members of the Bani Utbah tribe, who expelled the Persians. From 1861, when a treaty was signed with Great Britain, until independence in 1971, Bahrain was virtually a British protectorate, using the Indian Rupee.

British India and Qatar (protectorate)[edit]

Qatar—British India relations
British Raj
  British India
A British Wilding series stamp, issued 1 April 1957, and overprinted for use in Qatar.

The focus of British interests in Qatar changed after the Second World War with the Independences and successors of British India, the creation of Moslem India (Pakistan) in 1947, and the development of oil in Qatar. When Great Britain officially announced in 1968 that it would withdraw from the Persian Gulf in three years' time, Qatar joined talks with Bahrain and seven other Trucial States to create a federation. Regional disputes, however, persuaded Qatar and Bahrain to withdraw from the talks and become independent states separate from the Trucial States, which went on to become the United Arab Emirates.


  1. Heard-Bey, Frauke (2004). From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates. Motivate. p. 337. ISBN 978-1-86063-167-2. Search this book on
  2. Maktoum, Mohammed bin Rashid (2012). Spirit of the Union. UAE: Motivate. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-86063-330-0. Search this book on
  3. Wilson, Graeme (1999). Father of Dubai. UAE: Media Prima. p. 126. ISBN 978-9948-8564-5-0. Search this book on