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245 × 162 × 25 mm
240 pages
59 illustrations
01 Feb 2016

Keepers of the Golden Shore A History of the United Arab Emirates Michael Quentin Morton

For those who visit the UAE today, staying in air-conditioned hotels and shopping in ultra-modern malls, the country itself remains an enigma – a glass and concrete creation that seems to have sprung from the desert overnight. Keepers of the Golden Shore looks behind its glossy facade, tracing the traditional tribal bonds of an ancient land to the society of today and casting a new and revealing light on this intriguing, innovative and resilient people.

Across the spread of its deserts and mountains, islands and seas, the UAE has a rich and diverse history. From the ancient people who came out of the desert to settle the land, through the invasions and wars these people fought, to the myth of piracy and the mystique of pearls, and the arrival of the oilmen in the stifling heat, Keepers of the Golden Shore tells the extraordinary story of how the Emirates and its ruling families evolved from a tribal society to become one of the richest countries on earth.

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.’ — The National

‘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.’ — The Anglo-Omani Society Review

Keepers of the Golden Shore, Michael Quentin 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

‘Quentin 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

‘Quentin 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 states relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia.’ — Sir Harold Walker, former ambassador to the UAE

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Michael Quentin Morton has written a number of books on the history of the Middle East, including Keepers of the Golden Shore: A History of the United Arab Emirates (Reaktion, 2016).


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