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Aerial Old Photograph of Manama and Muharraq, 1933

This is a rare composite aerial photograph showing the northern portion of Bahrain , predominantly Manama (L) and Muharraq island (R). Dated from 27 September 1937 and written up by the British Royal Air Force (RAF), the following locations are indicated by means of identifying letters in red ink:

Juffair Naval Base - still in use by the American 5th fleet and more recently, the British again.(One) site for new ResidencyRAF PierRAFImperial Airways (the predecessor to British Airways)(One) site for new Residency [alternative site]Quarantine island
Recent posts

Drama in Manama: A Foreigner's Guide to Muharram in Bahrain (1940 Edition)

Bahrain holds a special place in the Persian Gulf for being one of the few countries to openly host processions commemorating the Islamic month of Muharram throughout the country. However, this post will not go into the history of Muharram itself and its significance to Shia Muslims in particular (though I do encourage independent research on the matter). In Bahrain, the first recorded public processions occurred in Manama in 1891, with it becoming an annual public event since. British records showed public Muharram processions also emerged in villages throughout the country in 1939.

Now the main subject of this post is the Muharram of 1939 which was during a significant time in Bahrain's history; oil was discovered in the country only 8 years before (the first in the Gulf region). With this oil and the establishment of the Bahrain Petroleum Company (BAPCO), the country saw an influx of engineers and experts in the oil & gas industry (predominantly British and Americans). For …

A Study of Bahrain in Old Maps

One of the many ways we can perceive and analyse the past is through depictions of contemporary geography onto maps. Cartography (the study of maps) has long helped historians understand and appreciate how peoples and empires perceived themselves in their time. And, more often than not, they were the centre of their own universes
Historically & up to the 18th century, Bahrain referred to the eastern shores of Arabia, an area that currently encompasses Kuwait, eastern Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and parts of northern Oman. The German map, made by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, below from 1745 lays testimony to this. 

Other interesting maps of Bahrain throughout the ages that I could find and appreciate are the following. All of these have been found, scanned and uploaded by the Qatar Digital Library (which is doing an incredible job at documenting and preserving primary source historical documents of the Persian Gulf)
Trigonometrical Map of the Island of Bahra…

Bilad al Qadeem in 1908 - A Brief History Of A Bahraini Village

The Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia (abbreviated Lorimer, after its author) is one of the more remarkable by-products of British colonial intelligence-gathering. I've already spoken about it in great detail in prior posts but would like to re-emphasise the importance to historians (and amateur history geeks) that this document presents. It showcases a Domesday book (much like that of the Normans) written from a colonial British point of view of much of the Arabian peninsula, highlighting histories (finished in 1915) and major/minor geographical settlements  (finished in 1908) from the then-large towns of Manama and Muharraq to small hamlets spread across the plains of Arabia.

As you can imagine, I will delve into a series of posts about the entries of Bahrain's villages in the Gazetteer to appreciate an idea or snapshot of what the Bahrain of 1908 really looked like back then & in turn help understand the history of Bahrain. I will start with Bilad al…

Napoleon Never Started A War

Hear me out.

Contrary to the often dramatised caricature of a mad, power-hungry & incredibly short Frenchman, Napoleon Bonaparte had never started a war during his time as emperor of the French.

In the space of 12 years (1803-1815), France was the target of seven international coalitions of European powers, determined to isolate and dismantle the French state for disrupting the status quo of European politics that had been thrown in disarray after the French revolution. All seven wars were declared upon France, not by it.

When confronted with war, Napoleon took to the offensive, that is a given. But how often in contemporary culture do we find ourselves briefly referring to Napoleon as "that crazy French guy who wanted world domination". In Franceshi & Weider's book on The Wars Against Napoleon: Debunking the Myth of the Napoleonic Wars (review), is is argued;
Napoleon had an ‘obsessive attachment to peace’, maintained his ‘intangible principle of avoiding con…

The International City of Tangier

At first glance, Tangier (طنجة) seems like an unremarkable seaside town, a stone throw away from the strategic strait of Gibraltar, connecting the Mediterranean to the Atlantic ocean. But this odd town has a disproportionately rich history. Founded by the Carthaginians in the early 5th century BC, ruled by Romans, Vandals, (Eastern) Roman again, Arab and the Portuguese. In fact, it was part of the dowry of Princess Catherine of Portugal to the recently crowned Charles II of England, transferring the settlement to English control in 1662. The English had planned to convert the town to their main naval base in the region (akin to Gibraltar but of course, the English only controlled Gibraltar in 1713) but abandoned & destroyed the town when it was besieged by the Moroccan Sultan in 1685. In the 19th century, Tangier became a hub of international diplomacy and politics. Amongst the curious notabilities in the town's history include it being the site of the USA's first consulat…

The Polish Exodus To Iran

In light of the horrific deaths of refugees & migrants crossing into Europe and the alarming xenophobic sentiments that are being spouted on the radio waves, I have decided to bring attention to an almost forgotten footnote in history; the Polish refugees of Iran.

Why were the Polish in Iran?
Time for some backstory. It's September 1939 - Germany and the Soviet Union have invaded Poland and partitioned the country between the two. To say life was miserable for the Polish at this time would be an understatement. The Soviet Union interned over 320,000 Polish citizens and deported them to Siberia for work in the infamous Gulags. Another 150,000 Poles died, in gruesome massacres such as the Katyn massacre. Stalin began emptying Poland of anyone who could resist the occupation. First went military officers and their families, then the intelligentsia, and last anyone with wealth, influence or education.

Fast forward to 1941 and Nazi Germany launched a full-scale invasion of the So…