The Struggle for Power, Influence and Oil
in Arabia

by Michael Quentin Morton
Hardback: 304 pages, 26 b+w photographs, maps
ISBN: 9781848858183

A ground breaking new history of a little-known but dangerous stand-off in the Middle East.
Buraimi is an oasis in south-eastern Arabia. In the early 20th century it shot to notoriety as oil brought the world’s attention to this corner of the Arabian Peninsula. In this exciting account of the conflict, Michael Quentin Morton tells the story of how the overwhelming power of oil and the conflicting interests of the declining British Empire and the United States all came to a head, shaping the future of the Gulf States. With colourful additions from first-hand accounts, Morton brings a range of historical figures to life, from the American oilmen arriving in steamy Jeddah in the 1930s, to the rival sheikhs of the oasis competing for power, wealth and allegiances, as well as the great players in world politics: Churchill, Truman and lbn Saud. This entertaining, yet thoroughly researched, book is both a story of decisive conflict in the history of Middle East politics and also of the great changes that the discovery of oil brought to this land.

Buraimi: the Struggle for Power, Influence and Oil in Arabia is available from I.B. Tauris.

'This is very well and entertainingly written and covers the subject in a way I've not seen before, bringing to it a good deal of primary sources research and weaving it together into a riveting story, with lots of juicy anecdotes.' Gerd Nonneman, Al Qasimi Professor of Gulf Studies, Exeter University.
'In this valuable study, Michael Quentin Morton focuses on the Buraimi Crisis,  which soured relations between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom over several decades (1932-1971), then the protectorate power over Oman and the lower Gulf sheikhdoms.' Joseph A. Kechichian, Senior Writer, Gulf News, 16 January 2014.
For the full review, click here.

'Morton has produced an account of the Buraimi dispute, perhaps the choicest microcosm of how a sandy backwater emerged as a major world player...The resultant rush for concessions and territory in the anarchic, ill-charted sands was enacted by a star-studded cast: rival sheikhs with nicknames like "Old Fox", the leading Anglo-American statesmen of their time, Nazi doctors on the run, oil executives in Panama hats and monocles, and explorers such as Wilfred Thesiger, with Jacques Cousteau and Aristotle Onassis also putting in brief cameos.' André Naffis-Sahely, Times Literary Supplement, 2 April 2014.
For the full review, click here.
'The strength of this work is in its close reconstruction of personalities and events, concentrically outwards from Buraimi itself...scholars will find value in the resulting detailed chapters...the general reader will find the concise chapters readable and compelling.' Professor Simon Davis, City University of New York, Journal of Global Faultlines, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2014, pp. 121-3.
For the full review, click here.

'Michael Morton presents a unique and very insightful account of the Buraimi crisis. His experience in growing up in Arabia is clearly reflected in his ability to bring an insider’s views and understandings. The book is, to a great extent, the most interesting and entertaining narrative of the crisis. Despite the lack of Arabic sources, particularly from Oman. UAE and Saudi Arabia, the author has turned the Buraimi dispute into a compelling story.' Khaled S. Almezaini, Asian Affairs, vol. 45, issue 3, 2014, pp. 508-9.

For the full review, click here.

'A number of events in the history of Oman and the UAE in the past 75 years can be understood more clearly in the context of this account of the decades-long sore of Buraimi. It is perhaps a blessing that the early exploration wells in Oman and Dhofar were either dry or found heavy oil, as major discoveries in interior Oman in the mid to late 1950s would have only added fuel to the fire. It's an intriguing story and I was left feeling that maybe it's not quite over yet.' Dr Alan Heward, Al Hajar journal, issue 20 (September 2014), pp. 18-19.

For the full review, click here.

'Morton's interest was originally sparked by a boyhood spent in the region and he authored an earlier book about his father's experiences in eastern Arabia as an oil company geologist (In the Heart of the Desert: The Story of an Exploration Geologist and the Search for Oil in the Middle East, Aylesford, Kent: Green Mountain Press, 2006; see review in the 2007 Bulletin pp. 56-7). Now he has produced perhaps the most authoritative account of the entire Buraimi episode which, as the author notes in his Epilogue, has been addressed by J.B. Kelly's pro-British treatment and ARAMCO's pro-Saudi works, as well as several doctoral theses. Morton has also made good use of the thoroughly researched memorials produced by both sides for the Arbitration Tribunal that met and collapsed in 1955 (the Abu Dhabi and Oman memorial was largely written by British diplomat and oil company official Edward Henderson, and that of Saudi Arabia by George Rentz and other ARAMCO employees).' John E. Peterson, Bulletin of the British Foundation for the Study of Arabia (BFSA), No. 20 (2015), pp. 77-8.

For the full review, click here.



Buraimi: the Struggle for Power, In;fuence and Oil In Arabia