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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Keepers of the Golden Shore

A History of the United Arab Emirates

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Keepers of the Golden Shore

A History of the United Arab Emirates

For those who visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE), staying in its the lavish hotels and browsing in the ultra-modern shopping malls of Abu Dhabi or Dubai, the country can be a mystery, a glass and concrete creation that seems to have sprung from the desert overnight. Keepers of the Golden Shore looks behind this glossy façade, illuminating the region’s history, which stretches from the ancient Arabian tribes who controlled a desolate but economically important shoreline to the ostentatious architectural wonders—bankrolled by a massive wealth of oil—that characterize it today.
As Michael Quentin Morton recounts, the region now known as the UAE likely began as a trading post between Mesopotamia and Oman, and since that time has been the stage of important economic and cultural exchanges. It has seen the rise and fall of a thriving pearl industry, piracy, invasions and wars, and the arrival of the oil age that would make it one of the richest countries on earth. Since the early 1970s, when seven sheikhs agreed to enter into a union, it has been a sovereign nation, carrying on the resourceful spirit—with resplendent fervor—that the brutally inhospitable landscape has long demanded of the people. Ultimately, Morton shows that the country is not only rich in oil and money but in an extraordinarily deep history and culture. 

256 pages | 59 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2016

History: General History

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Keepers of the Golden Shore covers the country from prehistory to the present day in less than 250 pages. . . . A welcome, readable, and much-needed starting point for new readers and new arrivals to the UAE who want a better understanding of the people and places around them.”


“Morton, who grew up in the Gulf, writes with calm authority and rational judgment about the often passionate rivalry between the various emirates and their ruling families, several of which engaged in fratricide and other dastardly acts. . . . For anyone who wants to understand from where what is now the UAE emerged and how that happened this is a most useful and readable account.”

Jonathan Fryer | InterLib Magazine

"This excellent and readable book, with a wealth of illustrations, begins by charting the early tribal history of the coast and its extensive trading relationships."

Anglo-Omani Society Review

"Keepers of the Golden Shore, Morton’s fifth book about the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf and one explicitly intended for expatriate readers, provides those newly arrived in the region with a readable, enjoyable introduction to the states and their history. . . . Morton’s work is an important step in integrating eastern Arabia into broader historical narratives of the Middle East, which frequently view the rise of Arab identities and states through the lens of the Levant and the Arab republics while ignoring or segregating the rise of oil monarchies. . . . A welcome addition to scholarship on the United Arab Emirates, not least because of Morton’s personal experiences in and respect for the country and its people. He resists the tendency to paint an overly rosy picture of British friendship and 'protection' of the region, which dominates the archives and some of the scholarship on the Persian Gulf, while also recognizing and accounting for the personalities, feuds, and limitations of ruling shaykhs. The end result is an excellent introduction to the subject."

Arab Studies Journal

“Morton offers us a comprehensive history of the United Arab Emirates from the earliest times to the present. It is an enthralling tale, told with verve and clarity, and covers the emergence of Greater Oman after the coming of Islam, the rise and fall of the pearling industry, the hungry years of the Second World War, and the discovery of oil. Evocative illustrations remind us that this is living history in the sense that much of the history is relevant to the life of the UAE today, particularly relationships within the emirates and the state’s relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia.”

Sir Harold Walker, former ambassador to the UAE

Table of Contents

1. Desert, Sea and Mountain: Southeast Arabia in Prehistory
2. Emergence: Greater Oman, the Arabian Gulf and the Bani Yas, AD 630-1909
3. A Maritime Kind: The Qawasim, the British and the Trucial Coast, 1718-1906
4. Jewels of the Sea: The Rise and Fall of the Pearling Industry, 1508-1949
5. Something in the Air: Dubai and the Northern Sheikdoms, 1901-39
6. The Hungry Years: The Trucial Coast in the Second World War, 1939-45
7. Sweet Crude: Abu Dhabi and the Discovery of Oil
8. Blueprint for a Nation: The Trucial States, 1945-68
9. Divided We Stand: Unification and Beyond, 1964-80
10. Only One Tribe: The United Arab Emirates, 1980-Present Day

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