The Yemens and Oman: Far Away but Not Forgotten

  • Rodney Wilson


Situated on the southern fringes of the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemens and Oman are the most remote part of the Middle East for the European, American, or indeed even the Arab traveller. Apart from the port of Aden, which flourished as a trading and entrepôt centre on the Suez-Red Sea route to the Orient, the other regions were cut off from major trade routes or markets. A growing number of tankers and other shipping plying between the oil sheikhdoms of the Gulf and Europe passed the shores of Oman and North Yemen from the 1950s onwards, but neither country had adequate port facilities. There was in any case little reason for these ships to break their journeys to call on such inhospitable lands. The closure of the Suez Canal in 1967 resulting from the Arab-Israeli War meant that Aden was no longer significant as a transit port. In consequence the isolation of these corners of Arabia from the outside world became almost total, and although the canal has reopened again, Aden had not been able to regain its former role. In a period when the rest of the Middle East was becoming increasingly opened up to the outside world, the reverse seemed to be happening in these particular areas.


Saudi Arabia Middle East Arabian Peninsula Suez Canal Economic Campaign 


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  1. 1.
    Wendell Phillips, Oman: A History (Longmans, 1967) Chapters 2 and 3, p. 24 ff., especially.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Hugh Scott, In the High Yemen (Murray, 1942) Chapters XVIII and XIX, p. 195 ff.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Simone Mondesir, ‘Yemen Arab Republic’, in Middle Eastern Yearbook (Middle East Magazine, 1977), p. 280.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Erich W. Bethmann, Yemen on the Threshold (Washington: American Friends of the Middle East, 1960) p. 57 ff.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Its effect on the trade deficit can be judged by the fact that the Yemini riyal sunk from 6·60 South Yemini shillings in 1964 to 1 – 40 shillings by 1970. See Fred Halliday, Arabia Without Sultans (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974). 136. Three years of drought (1967–9) lowered food output still further. 10 Even in the 1950s there was considerable unrest, however.Google Scholar
  6. See D. C. Watt, ‘Labour Relations and Trade Unionism in Aden, 1952–60’, Middle East Journal, vol 16, no. 4, (1962) pp. 43–56.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    For a brief account of Teymour’s rule see James Morris, Sultan in Oman (Faber & Faber, 1957) p. 151 ff.Google Scholar
  8. A comprehensive account of the Sultans of Oman up to the nineteenth century is given by Sahl-Ibri-Razik, History of the Imans and Seyyids of Oman (New York: Burt Franklin, 1871), translated by G. P. Badger.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    See the Middle East Economic Digest Special Report on Oman (June 1976) p. 2. Also Peter Kilner and Jonathan Wallace (eds), Gulf Handbook (London, Middle East Economic Digest, 1976 and Bath, Trade and Travel Publications, 1977) p. 374, where the figures for 1973 and 1974 are given.Google Scholar
  10. 24.
    See James A. Sockrat and Clive Sinclair, An Estimate of Yemen’s Total Population and Workers Abroad UNDP/ILO Working Paper (Sanaa, November 1975) p. 2 ff. for an analysis of the census results.Google Scholar
  11. 32.
    Paradoxically the Koran itself stresses equality. See Stephen Goode, The Prophet and the Revolutionary: Arab Socialism in the Modern Middle East (New York: Franklin Watts, 1975) p. 19.Google Scholar

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© Rodney Wilson 1979

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  • Rodney Wilson

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