Protectorate of South Arabia

The Protectorate of South Arabia Eastern consisted of various states located at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula under treaties of protection with Britain. The area of the former protectorate became part of South Yemen after the Radfan uprising and is now part of the Republic of Yemen.

Protectorate of South Arabia
محمية الجنوب العربي الشرقية
Map of the Protectorate of South Arabia
Map of the Protectorate of South Arabia
StatusBritish Protectorate
Common languagesArabic
Historical eraCold War
• Established
January 18 1963
• Disestablished
November 30 1967
CurrencyEast African shilling, then South Arabian dinar (1965-67)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Aden Protectorate
South Yemen
The Arabian peninsula in 1914



The background of the Protectorate of South Arabia is part of an effort of the British Empire to protect the East India Route, the sea route between the Mediterranean Sea and India, in and through the southern coasts of Arabia. Already before the opening of the Suez Canal, industrial Britain with its rapidly expanding economy, needed improved communication with British India.

The coastal plains of the peninsula had been devastated earlier in the 19th century by Wahhabi puritan Muslims from Central Arabia followed by an Egyptian invasion.[1] From the first commercial treaty with the Sultanate of Lahej in 1802, various efforts were made to avoid looting of East India ships, leading to the annexing of Aden by the East India Company in 1839. The Aden Protectorate was established in 1869, the same year of the opening of the Suez Canal which heralded a new era of trade and communication.[2]

20th centuryEdit

The Protectorate of South Arabia was designated on 18 January 1963 as consisting of those areas of the Aden Protectorate that did not join the Federation of South Arabia, and it broadly, but not exactly, corresponded to the division of the Aden Protectorate which was called the Eastern Aden Protectorate.

The protectorate included the Hadhrami states of Kathiri, Mahra, and Qu'aiti except the three Wahidi Sultanates in the Eastern Aden Protectorate, with Upper Yafa in the Western Aden Protectorate. The Protectorate of South Arabia was dissolved on 30 November 1967 and its constituent states quickly collapsed, leading to the abolition of their monarchies. The territory was absorbed into the newly independent People's Republic of South Yemen, which became part of the Republic of Yemen in 1990.


Flag Name Established Joined Notes
  Mahra Sultanate 15th century 1886
  Kathiri State 14th century 1888
  Qu'aiti State 1858 1888
  Upper Yafa circa 1800 1903 Consisted of five Sheikhdoms: Al-Busi, Al-Dhubi, Al-Hadrami, Al-Muflihi, and Al-Mausata
Sheikhdom of al-Hawra 19th century 1890
Sheikhdom of al-`Irqa 19th century 1890
Sultanate of Tarim Unknown Unknown Absorbed by Say'un (Kathiri) in 1945.[3][4]

Former states of the British Aden Protectorate were united in the 1960s to form the People's Republic of South Yemen, which became independent on 30 November 1967. South Yemen later merged with North Yemen to form the modern state of Yemen in 1990.[5][6]

State Ruler Deposed House Reign Ref(s)
  Audhali Salih ibn al-Husayn 17 September 1967 Al Audhali Last reigning Sultan (1928–1967). [6]
  Lower Aulaqi Nasir ibn Aidrus 29 November 1967 Al Awlaqi Last reigning Sultan (1947–1967). [6]
  Upper Aulaqi Awad ibn Salih 29 November 1967 Al Awlaqi Last reigning Sultan (1935–1967). [6]
  Beihan Saleh bin al-Husayn 28 August 1967 Al Habieli Last reigning Emir (1935–1967). [6]
  Dhala Shafaul ibn Ali Shaif 17 August 1967 Al Amiri Last reigning Emir (1954–1967). [6]
  Fadhli Nasir bin Abdullah 29 November 1967 Al Fadhli Last reigning Sultan (1964–1967). [6]
  Haushabi Faisal bin Surur 29 November 1967 Al Haushabi Last reigning Sultan (1955–1967). [6]
  Kathiri Husayn ibn Ali 2 October 1967 Al Kathiri Last reigning Sultan (1949–1967). [6]
  Lahej Fadhl VI bin Ali 17 August 1967 [as 1] Al Abdali Last reigning Sultan (1958–1967). [6]
  Mahra Abdullah ibn Ashur 16 October 1967 Al Mahri Last reigning Sultan (1966–1967). [6]
  Qu'aiti Ghalib II 17 September 1967 Al Qu'aiti Last reigning Sultan (1966–1967). [7][8]
  Wahidi Balhaf[as 2] Ali ibn Muhammad 17 August 1967[as 3] Al Wahidi Last governing Hakim (1967). [6]
  Wahidi Bir Ali Alawi ibn Salih 29 November 1967[as 4] Last reigning Sultan (1955–1967). [6]
  Wahidi Haban Husayn ibn Abdullah 29 November 1967[as 5] Last reigning Sultan (until 1967). [6]
  Lower Yafa Mahmud ibn Aidrus 28 August 1967[as 6] Al Afifi[as 7] Last reigning Sultan (1954–1967). [6]
  Upper Yafa Muhammad ibn Salih 29 November 1967 Harharah[as 7] Last reigning Sultan (1948–1967). [6]
  1. ^ Prior to his formal ascension to the throne, he had served as prince regent since 10 July 1958.[6]
  2. ^ Known as Balhaf and Azzan from 1881, signifying Balhaf's merge with Wahidi Azzan. Known simply as Wahidi from 1962, when the sultanates of Wahidi Bir Ali and Wahidi Haban were made subordinate.[6]
  3. ^ Prince Ali held the position of hakim (regent) from 20 February 1967 until the sultanate's abolition in August of the same year. He was never crowned sultan.[6]
  4. ^ Alawi previously reigned as sultan from 1955 until the monarchy was abolished in 1967. Before his reign ended, he was made subordinate to the Sultan of Balhaf and Azzan on 23 October 1962.[6]
  5. ^ Husayn had previously reigned as sultan prior to the monarchy's abolition in 1967. Before his reign ended, he was made subordinate to the Sultan of Balhaf and Azzan on 23 October 1962.[6]
  6. ^ Mahmud previously reigned as sultan from 1954 until the monarchy was deposed in 1967. His reign was not initially recognised by the British government, which continued to recognise his still-living father and predecessor as sultan until 1958.[6]
  7. ^ a b A clan of the Yafa tribe. The Yafai are divided into ten sheikhdoms that were spread across the former sultanates of Lower Yafa and Upper Yafa.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sarah Searight, The Charting of the Red Sea. History Today, 2003
  2. ^ Frank Edwards, The Gaysh: A History Of The Aden Protectorate Levies 1927-61 And The Federal Regular Army Of South Arabia 1961-67
  3. ^ "States of the Aden Protectorates". Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  4. ^ "WHKMLA : History of Yemen". Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  5. ^ Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh (1980). Burke's Royal Families of the World: Africa and the Middle East. London: Burke's Peerage. p. 320. ISBN 978-0-85011-029-6.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Cahoon, Ben. "States of the Aden Protectorates". World Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  7. ^ Soszynski, Henry. "Shihr and Mukalla". Genealogical Gleanings. University of Queensland. Archived from the original on 7 August 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  8. ^ Kaaki, Lisa (4 May 2011). "The holy cities". Arab News. Saudi Research & Publishing Company. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  9. ^ A Collection of First World War Military Handbooks of Arabia, 1913–1917. 3. Archive Editions. 1988. pp. 84–93. ISBN 978-1-85207-086-1.

External linksEdit