|This article's factual accuracy is disputed. (April 2008)|
Sheikh Nasr Al-Madhkur (Arabic: الشيخ نصر آل مذكور) was the 18th century local governor of what was described by a contemporary account as an "independent state" in Bushire and Bahrain. The account by German geographer Carsten Niebuhr who visited the region at the time describes Sheikh Nasr as "the sole Monarch of the isle of Bahrain”. He lost Bahrain in 1783 after his defeat by the Bani Utbah tribal alliance at Zubarah in 1782.
The Al-Madhkur family was regarded as huwala - Sunni Persians from Bushire, and led the Bushehr province on the Persian Gulf littoral. According to Carsten Niebuhr, the 18th-century German geographer, the Bushire Sunni Persians under the Al Madhkurs were one of three major forces ruling parts of southern Persia in the 1760s. Although the Sunni Bushire Arabs lived on the Persian Gulf littoral they should not be confused with Huwalas, and did not share their sense of identity, at least according to Niebuhr. Niebuhr visited Bushire in 1765 and when he wrote of independent Arab states he included Bushire. However it seems likely that under the system of suzerainty, the Al-Madhkurs held at least nominal allegiance to governors in southern Persia.
In 1753, from their base in Bushire, the Al Madhkurs took over Bahrain, the position of which had been badly undermined by the chaos following successive invasions. Sheikh Nasr seems to have been using Bahrain as a place to send those suffering from leprosy and venereal disease.
Bani Utbah's victory over Nasr Al-Madhkur at Zubarah in 1782
From 1748 to 1750 many tribal Arabs tried to occupy Bushire but failed. Later on they sided with Dutch-German trading companies and attacked the city while the news reached the Fars governor. It took then a year to send a strong 2000-man army on horseback to get rid of all invaders. When the news reached Bushire, Al-Mazkour and their allies left the city for good. The prosperity and emerging position of Zubarah as a flourishing pearling centre and trading port, now in modern Qatar, had brought it to the attention of the two main regional powers at that time, Persia and Oman, which were presumably sympathetic to Sheikh Nasr’s ambitions. Zubarah offered great potential wealth because of the extensive pearls found in its waters. In 1782, war broke out between the Zubarah-based Bani Utbah tribe and the Al-Madhkurs. Zubarah was originally the center of power of the Bani Utbah, from which the Al-Khalifa family belongs to.
- Carsten Niebuhr, Travels Through Arabia and Other Countries in the East, R Morison & Son, 1792 (1801 imprint) p145
- Derek Hopwood, The Arabian Peninsular, George Allen and Unwin, 1972, p40
- Carsten Niebuhr, Travels Through Arabia and Other Countries in the East, R Morison & Son, 1792 (1801 imprint) p153
- Ahmad Mustafa Abu Hakima, History of Eastern Arabia 1750-1800, Khayat, 1960, p78
- Ahmad Mustafa Abu Hakima, History of Eastern Arabia 1750-1800, Khayat, 1960, p79
- Carsten Niebuhr, Travels Through Arabia and Other Countries in the East, R Morison & Son, 1792 (1801 imprint) p278
- Jill Crystal, Oil and Politics in the Gulf: Rulers and Merchants in Kuwait and Qatar, Cambridge University Press 1995 p26