Secret Dubai diary Intrigue and adventure in the United Arab Emirates

iPhone RPGs

Dubai Info

Best role-playing games
Spiderweb Software
for Mac & PC

19 March, 2006

The Sheikh of Rams surrenders

Far from being a peaceful sandy backwater, there was plenty of intrigue and action in the sandlands in the 1950s, according to the memoirs of diarist Robin Wilton's father. It makes Sheikh Zayed's achievement of peace and unity all the more impressive:

"There was a general disposition on the part of the seven Rulers to try to enlarge their territories, and hence their prospects, at the expense of their neighbours. Dubai and Abu Dhabi had fought a brief and inconclusive war in 1948, in the course of which the Political Officer‘s car was fired upon. The dispute was, of course, nominally about some camels, but its underlying purpose was lost on no-one."

And pity the poor "Sheikh of Rams", whose guns weren't heavy enough to secure his own sheikhdom:

"In 1951 I had to take a small force of Levies to make clear to the Shaikh of Rams that the [British] Government regarded him as a subject of the Ruler of Ras al Khaima not as an independent Ruler. We were fired upon as we approached his fort but when he saw the speed and skill with which the Levies deployed and brought machine guns and mortars to bear upon his crumbling stronghold he quickly sent out a messenger with a white flag to explain that the whole affair had been a misunderstanding."

Might=right, even back then.



Blogger marwan said...

Enlightening. It reinforces the notion that the current mentality was not born overnight.

19 March, 2006 10:10  
Blogger grapeshisha said...

For some reason, this reminds me a lot of Indiana Jones.

19 March, 2006 13:08  
Blogger the shadow said...

Just the tip of the iceberg. If you ever get the chance, talk to some of the older locals in private. It's notoriously difficult to find solid sources for anything that happened in the UAE during the pre-federation era but there were more than a few incidents of territorial squabbles, massacres, sufi mysticism etc.

19 March, 2006 13:35  
Blogger DubaiTeen said...

Now that's something we didn't learn in UAE Social Studies in Grade 1. Only stuff about great rulers, prophets, about some arabic kid and his family etc; etc;

19 March, 2006 15:13  
Blogger Razaldo said...

Historically, the arabs have been divided. And the way things are, I do not see them putting up a united front ever.
All these talks of a unified currency et all are just in air - just like some of the new apartments being planned!
Sad really. Despite all the oil and wealth that they have, they do not enjoy much global political clout.

19 March, 2006 15:21  
Blogger Masafi said...

Dubaiteen, the arabic kid was Majid ;) damn that brought back old memories... that wily old social studies text book!!!

19 March, 2006 15:48  
Blogger unJane said...

I remember a story of Dubai vs Deira from the '50's or '60's. A son from one group was slated to marry a daughter from the other. One family entered the compound and slaughtered the other, bringing about a forced 'union' of sorts. Those were the days!

19 March, 2006 17:22  
Blogger trobriander said...


There are many non-conical & conical Segmentary Oppositions systems similar to those found in the Arabic regions. Examples are found in Darfur, Africa; the Trobriand Islands (I am not from there) and East Timor, Indonesia and many more.

Those systems are considered most eco-human sensitive, and they represent an integral part of world’s heritage. The problem is when the Imperialist forces play the internecine differences to establish a foothold.

19 March, 2006 21:10  
Blogger Edward Ott said...

you should make a movie!


19 March, 2006 23:33  
Blogger the shadow said...

trobriander: conical? does that relate to heirarchy as in a "pyramid" arangement?

By segmentary oppositions I assume you are talking about tribes or small "sub-states" ie city states etc. So yeah, that used to be quite universal.

I would argue that the "developed" world is increasingly reverting to sub-national systems of identity (based on ethnicity, religion or preferred type of music even) as a reaction to globalization. Kindof ironic, isn't it?

I at least hope that the eco-humanitarian benefits pan a out as you suggest :)

20 March, 2006 13:41  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

Aside - Thanks for fixing the overlap of the right column and the center column. I can read my daily SDd now without having to fill in a blank at the end of each line.

20 March, 2006 13:46  
Blogger Cokey said...

The funniest part is its 1950's and the world is over with WWI and WWII, some holding atomic bombs and Empire state buildings and yet we have these Sheikhs with white flags and riding camels and worst of all "messengers"? I bet they missed the pigeons technology for communication too.

20 March, 2006 13:46  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Thanks for fixing the overlap of the right column and the center column.

No problem - I think a too-long country name in NeoCounter was causing it.

20 March, 2006 14:07  
Blogger Lehihamra said...

The Sheikh of Rams - I like the sound of that. It was not just in the 1950s that Al Rams saw some action. Back in 1819, when the largest city in the southern Gulf was the one that SD takes such joy in poking fun at, the Al Dhuyah fort in Al Rams was bombarded by the British Royal Marines in the last battle between the two areas.

RAK - fought the British Empire. Dubai?

20 March, 2006 14:48  
Blogger trobriander said...

@ the shadow

[trobriander: conical? does that relate to heirarchy as in a "pyramid" arangement?]

Yes it does.

[I would argue that the "developed" world is increasingly reverting to sub-national systems of identity (based on ethnicity, religion or preferred type of music even) as a reaction to globalization. Kindof ironic, isn't it?]

Not quite. Those IDs are taken into consideration to define ‘specific’ world order.

The UN - a post Victorian organization - explicitly reiterated in 1949 colonialists’ (most current developed countries) rights to define native dwellers based on their identities. However, those IDs were hand-picked to form little states to further disfranchise the indigenous. Also, to eradicate their existing higher Segmentary systems, which will eventually amalgam them nicely into an unnatural course of globalization.

Darfur is a typical example.

20 March, 2006 16:01  
Blogger LazyOwl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

27 March, 2006 03:10  

Post a Comment

<< Home

next issue is no. 12

Google Secret Dubai, The World's Blog Aggregator
 Blog Top Sites

Powered by Blogger

StatCounter stats