Half a century ago, Britain abandoned Aden, its last colonial outpost in the Arab world as its
attempt to establish a new polity foundered amid a rising tide of Arab nationalism, tribal
infighting and anti-colonial sentiment that eventually gave rise to the establishment of
South Yemen. Yet just over three years later in 1971, a new state, the United Arab Emirates,
emerged in Arabia, formed from the old Trucial states over which Britain had long held
sway. At a time when state failure and fragmentation has become synonymous with much
of the Middle East and where the very idea of sovereignty and legitimacy have become
contested issues, this comparative historical study of the varied British attempts at state
creation on the Arabian peninsula offers important insights into the limits of external ambition,
as well as the possibilities that great power retrenchment offered to the peoples of the
region. The legacy of British influence in Aden and Abu Dhabi still very much resonates
today; this volume explains why.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Middle Eastern Studies.