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Saudi Arabia under Ibn Saud: Economic and Financial Foundations of the State

Saudi Arabia under Ibn Saud: Economic and Financial Foundations of the State
Dr. J. E. Peterson

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At its founding in 1932, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was characterized by tribal warfare, political instability, chronic financial shortages and economic crises. As a desert chieftain, Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud, the ruler and king until 1953, had the skills, the cunning and the power to control the tribes and bring peace to this realm. But financial and economic matters were not his forte and these he left mostly to a single individual, Abdullah al-Sulayman al-Hamdan. He was entrusted with nearly all of the country's early financial dealings and administrative development. The Ministry of Finance, which he headed from its inception, served as nearly the sole government agency dealing with a wide variety of matters, many of which had only a peripheral connection to finance or the economy. This book examines the role of the Ministry of Finance and its minister, Abdullah al-Sulayman, in holding the country together financially and administratively until the promise of substantial oil income was realized a few years after the end of World War II. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in Gulf History and the Economic History of the Middle East.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations Preface Glossary Abbreviations 1. Saudi Arabia in the Twentieth Century The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Origins of Government Administration and Financial Requirements PART I FINANCES AND OIL BEFORE WORLD WAR II 2. The Organization of State Finances Control of the Treasury in the Early 1920s Control of Finances in al-Hijaz and the Directorate from 1927 Controller of National Finances and the Financial Authority (al-Wikalah) (1927 - 9) Establishment of the Ministry of Finance (1932) Administering Finances During the Great Depression 3. The 1933 Oil Concession and Oil Affairs to World War II Early Oil Exploration in Arabia The Role of Charles Crane and Karl Twitchell The Original 1933 Concession Further Developments in the ARAMCO Concession 4. Early Administrative Arrangements Military and Defense Air and Transport Foreign Affairs Hajj Administration Mining Activities Electricity and Water Supply Other Ministry of Finance Responsibilities PART II THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II 5. British Wartime Assistance and the Emergence of Anglo-American Rivalry The Inception of British Wartime Subsidies The Kingdom's Dire Internal Situation in 1942 - 3 Issues with the British Subsidy for 1944 The US Supplants British Influence with the 1945 Subsidy 6. The Beginnings of the US - Saudi Partnership The Historic Meeting between King 'Abd al-'Aziz and President Roosevelt Wartime Subsidies and Lend - Lease Assistance Military Provisions and the Dhahran Air Base Agreement 7. Administrative Developments Endeavors in Agriculture Continuing Developments in Foreign Affairs and Defense Banking and Currency Development Projects Miscellaneous Activities PART III POSTWAR PROSPERITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 8. Oil Emerges as the Financial Engine Oil Company Relations During the War TAPline and Other Oil Concerns (1946 - 9) Financial Relations between the Saudi Arabian Government and ARAMCO (1946 - 9) Oil Negotiations and Related Matters (1950 - 4) Other Financial Relations between the Saudi Arabian Government and ARAMCO (1950 - 4) Onassis and the SATCO Affair of 1954 9. Postwar Stringencies and the Push for Development (1945 - 9) A New Normalcy After the War Establishing a Controlled Budgetary Process and Spearheading Socioeconomic Development 10. The Broad Remit of the Postwar Ministry of Finance The Establishment of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency Mining Activities and Transport Saudi Employees in ARAMCO Agriculture Other Responsibilities 11. The Emergence of Prosperity (1950 - 4) Finances and Currency Reform Development Projects The Expansion of Government Administration The Ministry of Finance in the Transition from King 'Abd al-'Aziz to King Sa'ud Notes Bibliography Index

Author Info

J.E. Peterson is a historian and political analyst specializing in the Arabian Peninsula. He has taught at various universities including Bowdoin College, the College of William and Mary, the University of Pennsylvania, Portland State University and SciencesPo; and has been associated with a number of leading research institutes in the United States and the United Kingdom. Until 1999, he served in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Security and Defence in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. He is currently affiliated with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona and is the author or editor of a dozen books and monographs, including most recently Historical Muscat: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer; Oman's Insurgencies: The Sultanate's Struggle for Supremacy; The GCC States: Participation, Opposition, and the Fraying of the Social Contract; The Emergence of the Gulf States: Studies in Modern History and a third edition of Historical Dictionary of Saudi Arabia.


`This book fills a significant gap in the available literature on Saudi Arabia. There are a number of texts that focus on Ibn Saud's reign, but most of these focus on the personal agency of his leadership and his foreign relations, while only tangentially analysing the political economy of the time. This book goes a long way to remedying this situation. A key strength of the book is that it draws heavily on primary sources, most of which are archived US government reports. This really adds depth to the book and makes it stand out.'
Christopher Davidson, Associate Professor (Reader) in Middle East Politics, University of Durham, 'This book fills a very important gap in the literature on Saudi Arabia and will add immediate scholarly and analytical value to the academic and policy debates over Saudi Arabia's attempts to transform its economy once again and move decisively into a post-oil era. The depth of primary and secondary research that has gone into the book is extremely impressive and adds up to a considerable advance in the sum of academic knowledge about the creation of economic institutions and decision-making in Saudi Arabia between the 1920s and the 1950s.'
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Fellow for the Middle East, Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: Library of Middle East History

ISBN: 9781784539009
Publication Date: 29 Jun 2018
Number of Pages: 304
Height: 234
Width: 156
Illustrations: 2 maps, 4 tables

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