The Pirate Coast.

Beach watch tower - KhasabBeach watch tower near Bukhā on the Khasab coastal road.

Yashica 124G on Ilford HP5plus.

This whole section of coastline was (even a little today !) known for its piracy. Mentioned on official maps of the area as The Pirate Coast, recognised as such, all the way back to around 694 BC, when Assyrian pirates attacked traders travelling to and from India via the Persian Gulf.
One of the earliest mentions of piracy by the British came from a letter written by William Bowyear: East India Company Resident at Bushire, and his assistant, James Morley, to Henry Moore, East India Company Agent at Bussora, dated 13 July 1767

It describes a rather brutal Persian pirate named Mīr Muhannā:

“In his day, he was a major source of concern for all those who traded along the Persian Gulf and his exploits were an early factor, beyond purely commercial concerns, that led the East India Company to first become entangled in the politics of the region”

Samuel Marinus Zwemer, while traveling in the area has several interesting references about the safety of travellers: a snippet –

Oman and Eastern Arabia S. M. Zwemer: Journal entry 1907.

It may be of interest to note our mode of travel in this primitive country, where there are no beasts of prey but where every one goes armed for fear of his neighbour. I quote from my diary:
……..Our guides proceeded mounted, but with their rifles loaded and cocked; then followed the baggage-camel, to which mine was towed in Arab fashion by hitching the bridle of the one to the tail of the other; in like manner, my companion rode his beast fastened to the milch-camel, followed by its two colts.

Around 1805, the Wahhabis implemented a system of organized raids on foreign shipping. The vicegerent of the Pirate Coast, Husain bin Ali, compelled the Al Qasimi chiefs to send their vessels to plunder any trading ships of the Persian Gulf without exception. Rather lucrative because he kept at least 1/5th of the plunder for himself.

At the end of the 1809 monsoon season, British authorities in India decided to make an example of the Al Qasimi once and for all. An expedition was sent to destroy the largest of their bases and as many ships as could be found; an added bonus was to counteract French encouragement of these pirates from their embassies in Persia and Oman. By the morning of 14 November, the military expedition was over and the  forces returned to their ships, suffering light casualties of five killed and 34 wounded. Arab losses were unknown, but probably significant and the damage done to the Al Qasimi fleets was severe: as a  number of their vessels had been destroyed at Ras al-Khaimah.

The Pirate Coast was later called the Trucial Coast after the Treaty of Maritime Peace in Perpetuity was signed in 1853, giving the Royal Navy responsibility for the protection of shipping. It also set the seeds for what would later become the United Arab Emirates.

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