Masters of the Pearl

A History of Qatar

'Morton draws the reader in by weaving a well-written tale of tribal intrigue, regional and historic animosities, and big power rivalry ... Masters of the Pearl constitutes a critical, yet compassionate contribution to an understanding of a small state that manages to punch above its weight and the stormy winds that attracts.' James M. Dorsey, New Books Network.

Qatar is a country of spectacular contrasts: from pearl fishing, its main industry until the 1930s, to gas and oil, which generate immense wealth today; it has famously been at the centre of both triumph and controversy in recent years for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Almost a lifetime since he grew up in Qatar, Michael Quentin Morton writes about the country's colourful past and its astonishing present. The book is filled with stories about the people of this land: the tribes and the travellers, the seafarers and slaves - as much a part of Qatar's history as its rulers and their wealth.

Now available in the UK from Reaktion Books and all good booksellers.

Keepers of the Golden Shore

A History of the United Arab Emirates

'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.'


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.

Empires and Anarchies

A History of Oil in the Middle East

'An excellent, readable, introduction to the history and development of oil in the Middle East.'

This account is very different to the conventional narrative. From the first explorers trudging through the desert wastes to the excesses of the Peacock Throne and the high stakes of OPEC, the history of oil is described in all its aspects: how it enriched and fractured the Middle East. Empires and Anarchies presents a fascinating insight into the historical background of the region through the people and politics of oil. It is essential reading for anyone intrigued by the promise and the curse of oil, as well as for those interested in how oil has played a crucial part in shaping the modern Middle East.

Buraimi

The Struggle for Power, Influence and Oil in Arabia

'A ground-breaking new history of a little-known but dangerous stand-off in the Middle East.'
 
Michael Quentin Morton tells the story of how the overwhelming power of oil and the conflicting interests of the declining British Empire and the United States all came to a head, shaping the future of the Gulf States. With colourful additions from first-hand accounts, Morton brings a range of historical figures to life, as well as the great players in world politics: Churchill, Truman and lbn Saud. This entertaining, yet thoroughly researched, book is both a story of decisive conflict in the history of Middle East politics and also of the great changes that the discovery of oil brought to this land.

In the Heart of the Desert

The Story of an Exploration Geologist and the Search for Oil in the Middle East

'In the Heart of the Desert is well illustrated with photographs and sketch maps and will enthral anyone with an interest in the countries it describes... It is highly recommended.'

This is the story of the author's father, exploration geologist Mike Morton, whose career as an exploration geologist between 1945 and 1984 took him across the Middle East. The book describes an extraordinary world and a rich parade of characters: autonomous sheikhs and their fiercely independent tribes, nomadic bedouins, colourful expatriates and a group of intrepid geologists driven by an oil company’s search for oil. The author presents a detailed and thoroughly researched account of his father’s life which culminates in the story of his own journey to southern Arabia and a poignant meeting of the present with the past.

Books Published in the UAE

A Fateful Intrusion

The British India Line in the Arabian Gulf 1862-1982

'The presentation and organisation of this book is simply stunning inside and out and the clarity of writing and academic rigour are more than a match for its looks.'


This is the story of a famous shipping line and its impact on the Arabian Gulf. The British India Line was originally conceived as a service to deliver mail between the main ports of the Gulf and India, and went on to ply its trade in the region for 120 years. The ships of the line opened up the region to wider trading networks, disrupting the dhow trade and shaping the hierarchy of local ports in the process. They brought people, goods and services together with timetables, quarantine regimes and postal services. This book looks at the ambivalent legacy of the steamship age and how it transformed the region. Above all, it is about the meeting of two different worlds, about the people of the Gulf and their changing times. 

Published by the UAE National Archives and available from Amazon.ae

The Petroleum Gulf

The Discovery and Development of Offshore Oil in the United Arab Emirates

Many accounts of oil histories tend to deal with the offshore exploration in a few paragraphs, focusing on the onshore oil discoveries instead. And yet, although the offshore industry faced greater risks and expense, its achievements are equal, or even surpass, those of the onshore industry - no less so than in the Arabian Gulf where two of the offshore oilfields discovered in Emirati waters are among the largest in the world. Remarkably, for an industry that took to the open sea less than a century ago, this book has much to tell about the search for undersea oil and the transformation of the UAE from a traditional society into a modern, prosperous state.

Published by the UAE National Archives and available from Kinokuniya, Dubai.

The Third River

Aspects of Oil in the Middle East, 1887-1979

'The author has produced a volume which sets out the whole story... the underlying events which he so engagingly narrates are integral to a full understanding of that volatile part of the world.'


By the 1960s, the IPC group of companies controlled 20 per cent of the world's oil reserves, producing oil from wells in Iraq, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, and exploring many other countries. Based on personal accounts and his own research, the author tells a compelling story of the people and politics behind one of the most powerful - and controversial - influences on the oil development of the region.

Published by the UAE National Archives and available from Kinokuniya in Dubai.


Black Gold and Frankincense

Photographs of Southern Arabia
by the Early Oil Explorers, 1947-71

This book, in English and Arabic, expands on the author's first book, In the Heart of the Desert, with photographs of local people in a variety of settings: in their villages, at water wells, working in salt mines, riding camels,  dancing, attending weddings, or simply posing for the camera. For many of these subjects, this was the first time their photograph had been taken. The book also depicts the ancient monuments and artefacts that the geologists found on their journeys, and concludes with the advent of the oil age in the countries known today as Yemen, Oman and the UAE.

Available from the UAE National Archives, Abu Dhabi. Now available to download from the iTunes Store using an iPad or iPhone... click below for instructions to download the App.

 
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©2020 Michael Quentin Morton