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SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT, AND THE LONGUE DURÉE STRUGGLE FOR ISLAM'S HOLIEST PLACES

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 December 2017

JOSHUA TEITELBAUM*
Affiliation:
Bar-Ilan University
*
Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, IsraelJoshua.Teitelbaum@biu.ac.il

Abstract

Scholars inquiring into Saudi–Egyptian or Hijazi–Egyptian relations, or the history of modern Saudi state formation, have been tempted to concentrate on the June 1926 attack by the tribal Ikhwan on the Egyptian Maḥmal, or pilgrimage caravan, as the key to understanding these relations. But such a courte durée, sometimes known as the événementielle approach, leaves out much rich depth. In fact, when placed within the wider time frame of the longue durée of relations between Egypt and the Hijaz, which is Arabia's western littoral region and home to Islam's holiest places, its historical significance becomes more about ending Egyptian claims of primacy in the Hijaz than achieving internal Saudi state consolidation. It is the longue durée that should command attention, for the only way that Ibn Saud could refashion to his own favour the historical connections that defined Islamic legitimacy in a political form was to cut the Gordian knot between Egypt and the Hijaz. He had to break up the Red Sea littoral system, and tie the holy places instead to the Saudi heartland of Najd. At the Red Sea's expense, the Arabian Peninsula, dominated by Saudi Arabia, became the new geo-political feature of the region.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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95 Annual Report on the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 1936, TNA, FO 371/20843.

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98 Ahmad, al-Mahmal, pp. 269–71.

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102 Pilgrimage Report for 1938, IOR, R/15/1/576; Fish (Cairo), no. 1215, to Washington, 25 Feb. 1938, in Rashid, Ibrahim, Saudi Arabia enters the modern world: secret U.S. documents on the emergence of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a world power, 1936–1949, iv (Salisbury, NC, 1980), pp. 1316Google Scholar.

103 Sayed, ‘Friendship & cooperation’.

104 Jomier, Le Maḥmal, p. 72.

105 Ibid., p. 73.

Ibid

106 Nahla Nasar, ‘Dar al-kiswa al-sharifa: administration and production’, in Porter and Saif, eds., The hajj, pp. 175–83.

107 On this process, see Ochsenwald, William, ‘Islam and loyalty in the Saudi Hijaz, 1926–1939’, Die Welt Des Islams, 47 (2007), pp. 732CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Sluglett, Marion and Sluglett, Peter, ‘The precarious monarchy: Britain, Abd Al-Aziz Ibn Saud and the establishment of the kingdom of Hijaz, Najd and its dependencies, 1925–1932’, in Niblock, Tim, ed., State, society and economy in Saudi Arabia (London, 1982), pp. 3657Google Scholar.

108 ‘Egypt’s Sisi rejects criticism of Saudi Arabia over hajj tragedy', Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, 5 Oct. 2015.

109 Braudel, ‘Longue durée’, pp. 173, 181.

110 Besserman, Lawrence, ‘The challenge of periodization: old paradigms and new perspectives’, in Besserman, Lawrence, ed., The challenge of periodization: old paradigms and new perspectives (London, 1996), pp. 328Google Scholar.

111 Braudel, ‘Longue durée’, p. 174.

112 Ibid., p. 175.

Ibid

113 Ibid., p. 182.

Ibid
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SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT, AND THE LONGUE DURÉE STRUGGLE FOR ISLAM'S HOLIEST PLACES
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