Rare pilot of the Arabian Gulf with early views of Dubai and Abu Dhabi
By THE ADMIRALTY, 1932
Persian Gulf Pilot comprising the Persian Gulf and its approaches from Ras al Hadd, in the south-west, to Cape Monze, in the east. Eight Edition.
- Author: THE ADMIRALTY
- Publication place: London
- Publisher: Published for the Hydrographic Department, Admiralty, J.D. Potter, Agent for the Sale of Admiralty Charts, 145, Minories, E.C.3
- Publication date: 1932 [additions to 1936].
- Physical description: 4to (245 by 150mm),  i‑ii  iii-xxx, 328pp, 2 charts, 26 plates, numerous manuscript annotations, in red and black ink, text from the annual supplements tipped in throughout the work, red buckram boards, title to upper board, spine strengthened with old cloth.
- Inventory reference: 15952
The present work is the eighth edition of a pilot first published, according to the ‘advertisement’, in 1864 from the remarks and surveys of Commander Charles Constable and Lieutenant Arthur Stiffe. Constable and Stiffe served in the Indian Navy, and travelled through the Middle East between 1857–1860 conducting hydrographic surveys. The pilot also shows the influence of Commander Banes-Bruck, who had conducted the first systematic survey of Arabian waters while stationed in the Gulf as a member of the Indian Navy, in the 1820s.
This eighth edition has been compiled by “Commander G. C. Glen, D.S.O., O.B.E., R.N., and contains the latest information received in the Hydrographic Office”. Published in the same year as oil was discovered in Bahrain, the pilot captures the Gulf just before the boom that would transform it into a region of immense global importance. Even before the Middle Eastern oil trade began its rapid expansion, however, its waters remained an important thoroughfare for European trade and travel, with a constant flow of British ships through the Suez canal.
The pilot begins with a number of introductory sections explaining how it is to be used and outlining the updates made to the latest edition. There follows a list of illustrations, a glossary of terms from various local languages including Arabic, Hindustani and Persian, and general information about the use and composition of Admiralty charts. The main body of the pilot systematically describes the Persian Gulf from all approaches, with information about its marine features, political and administrative divisions, trade, navigational routes and potential hazards, from shoals to pirates.
Although most of the pilot’s 328 pages are dominated by text, there are regular illustrations and maps found throughout. These views are different from the typical Admiralty charts, being far less technical and some even reproductions of popular watercolours. They nonetheless indicate the profile of the land, as well as significant topographical features and important anchorages. The maker assures the ready of the accuracy of the information provided in the pilot, since “It is most difficult to get trustworthy information from the Arabs, and but the little that they impart can be relied upon”.
The present edition of the Persian Gulf Pilot is extremely rare. We have been able to trace only five institutional examples: the British Library, National Maritime Museum, United Nations Library, University of Chicago Library, and State Library of New Soth Wales. Furthermore, we have been unable to trace any editions of the pilot appearing at auction.