Trucial States

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Trucial States
Protectorates of the United Kingdom

Flag of the Trucial States Council

Capital Not specified
Languages Omani Arabic
Government Federated absolute monarchy.
Princely states of British India (until 1947)
 -  General Maritime Treaty 8 January 1820
 -  Perpetual Maritime Truce 1853
 -  Trucial States Council 1952
 -  End of protectorate 1 December 1971
 -  United Arab Emirates 2 December 1971
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Abu Dhabi
Ras al-Khaimah
Umm al-Qaiwain
Emirate of Nejd
United Arab Emirates

The Trucial States (Arabic: إمارات الساحل المتصالحĀmārāt as-Sāhal al-Matṣālaḥ; also known as Trucial Oman, Trucial States of the Coast of Oman, the Trucial Coast, and the Trucial Sheikhdoms) were a group of sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf. They were a British protectorate from 1820 until 1971, when they became the United Arab Emirates.

General aspects[edit]

The sheikhdoms included:

The sheikhdoms permanently allied themselves with the United Kingdom by the Perpetual Maritime Truce of 1853, until in 1892 they entered into "Exclusivity Agreements" with the British - following on from Bahrain in 1880 - which put them under British protection. This was an unclear status which fell short of a formal protectorate, but required Britain to defend them from external aggression in exchange for exclusive British rights in the states.[1] Until 1969, the Indian rupee remained the de facto currency of the Trucial states as well as the other Persian Gulf states such as Qatar, Bahrain and Oman until these countries introduced their own currencies in 1969, after the great devaluation of the Indian rupee. In 1952, the Trucial States Council was established to encourage co-operation between the seven remaining emirs.

Beginning of British rule[edit]

The area came under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century.[2] Thereafter the region was called the "Pirate Coast" by the British, who argued that raiders based there harassed the shipping industry despite both European and Omani navies patrolling the area according to British sources.[3] Yet according to the local Qawassim version, the piracy issue was a pretext. The British Empire tried to further establish itself in the Persian Gulf region and to secure it from any other European influence, particularly from France and Russia, not from local raiders. This version has been particularly well articulated by Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi, the current emir of Sharjah, in his 1986 book The Myth of Arab Piracy in the Gulf.

British expeditions to protect British Indian trade and interests around Ras al-Khaimah, close to the Strait of Hormuz, led to campaigns against that headquarters and other harbours along the coast in 1819. The next year, a peace treaty was signed to which all the sheikhs of the coast adhered. Skirmishes and conflicts, considered as raids by the British Indian Vice-Royalty, continued intermittently until 1835, when the sheikhs agreed not to engage in hostilities at sea. In 1853, they signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, under which the sheikhs (the "Trucial Sheikhdoms") agreed to a "perpetual maritime truce". It was enforced by the United Kingdom, and disputes among sheikhs were referred to the British for settlement.[4]

Treaty of 1892[edit]

Primarily in reaction to the ambitions of other European countries, the United Kingdom and the Trucial Sheikhdoms established closer bonds in an 1892 treaty, similar to treaties entered into by the UK with other Persian Gulf principalities. The sheikhs agreed not to dispose of any territory except to the United Kingdom and not to enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without its consent. In return, the British promised to protect the Trucial Coast from all aggression by sea and to help in case of land attack.[5]

End of the Trucial States[edit]

The United Kingdom announced its intention to end its protectorate over the Trucial Coast in 1968. The sheikdoms attempted to establish a federation with Qatar and Bahrain, but it ultimately failed. The British government terminated the treaty relationship on 1 December 1971, leading to the independence of the seven states. The next day, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain united to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ras al-Khaimah initially refused but later joined on 11 February 1972.


  1. ^ Balfour-Paul, G., The end of empire in the Middle East: Britain's Relinquishment of Power in her Last Three Arab Dependencies, Cambridge University Press, 1984, ISBN 978-0521466363
  2. ^ "Ottoman Empire - History of Ottoman Empire | Dictionary of Contemporary World History". 1923-10-29. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  3. ^ "November 3, 2008 - The UAE is the old Pirate Coast. Not much has changed.". Wayne Madsen Report. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  4. ^ "UK in the UAE". 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  5. ^ Tore Kjeilen (2007-04-04). "Trucial States". LookLex. Retrieved 2009-07-15 (dead link, Sept. 2014).  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)