Sultanate of Lahej

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Sultanate of Laheg
سلطنة لحج


Map of the Federation of South Arabia, with Lahej at bottom left
Capital Al-Hawtah
Religion Islam
Government Sultanate
Historical era Aden Protectorate
 -  Established 1728
 -  Disestablished 1839[1]

Lahej (Arabic: لحج Laḥij), the Sultanate of Lahej (Arabic: سلطنة لحج Salṭanat Laḥij), or, sometimes, the Abdali Sultanate (Arabic: سلطنة العبدلي Salṭanat al-ʿAbdalī), Was a Sheikdom based in Lahej in Southern Yemen. The Sheikdom was officially abolished in 1967.


Guest House of the Sultan of Lahej,
from an 1898 photograph by Henry Ogg Forbes.

18th — 19th century[edit]

Lahej was sultanate of the 'Abdali dynasty . In 1740 the 'Abdali sultan became independent.[2] The Sultanate of Lahej became an independent entity, from 1728 to 1839.

The Sultanate of Lahej lost its independence to the British, after the Royal Navy Aden Expedition attack in 1839. The Sultan signed several treaties with the British.[1] The 1863 opening of the Suez Canal caused the formation of the Aden Protectorate

The sultanate was one of the original "Nine Cantons" that signed individual British protectorate agreements with Great Britain, that in 1869 were joined together to become the Aden Protectorate. The Suez Canal also opened in 1869.

20th century[edit]

During World War I, the Ottoman Empire maintained control.[1]

Lahej typically enjoyed good relations with the British, despite the accidental killing of Sultan Fadhl ibn Ali al Abdali by British troops in 1918 who mistook him for an enemy Ottoman Turk soldier. In 1948, the Subayhi tribal area was absorbed into their sultanate.[1]


However, in 1958, Britain was worried that the sultan at the time, Ali bin Abd al Karim al Abdali, an Arab nationalist, would refuse to join the British-sponsored Federation of Arab Emirates of the South, and had him deposed. Lahej ended up joining the Federation and later the Federation of South Arabia in 1963.

In 1967 the new Communist regime expelled the Sultan. The Sultanate of Lahej was abolished with the founding of the Socialist state of People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (1967–1990).

The former territory has been within the Republic of Yemen since its unification in 1990.[1]


British Empire[edit]

The Sultanate of Lahej and others surrounding the Port of Adan had economic influence by supporting the important trade economy of the British Empire from South Asia. Early 19th century industrial Britain, with its rapidly expanding economy, needed improved and reliable communication with British India and the East India Company operations.

The 1863 opening of the Suez Canal intitiated further British trade protection strategies, securing the port of Adan and surroundings to serve the Red Sea shipping routes using its new canal. The Sultanate was part of an effort of the British Empire to protect the East India Route, the sea route between the Mediterranean and India, in and through the southern coasts of the Arabian Peninsula.


As of 1920, the Lahej region was producing salt, from salt mines owned by the Ottoman government, that passed through the Sultanate for shipping.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "'Abdali sultanate". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago. 2010. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 1984 Edition, Vol. I, p. 11
  3. ^ Prothero, G.W. (1920). Arabia. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 97. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Colony of Aden at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 13°06′00″N 45°28′00″E / 13.1°N 45.4667°E / 13.1; 45.4667