The Revolt in Arabia


This historical booklet about the origins of the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I was written by Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857–1936), a Dutch professor who specialized in oriental languages and cultures and served as a colonial official in the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia). The booklet is a collection of newspaper articles by Hurgronje that appeared in the newspaper Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant in 1916, after Hurgronje had spent a year conducting research in Mecca and Jiddah. The articles were translated into English and published in book form in 1917. The first two chapters are a history of the sherifate (governorate) of Mecca and the administration of the Hijaz (southwest Arabia), based on a local dynasty of rulers claiming descent from the Prophet Muhammad, but who had acknowledged Ottoman supremacy since the 16th century. In the third and final chapter, Hurgronje assesses the possibility of the sherifate leading a tribal revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which he held to be extremely unlikely. The appendix is a translation of a 1915 proclamation by Ḥusayn ibn ʻAlī (circa 1853–1931), ruler of Hijaz, explaining his reasons for rebelling against the Ottomans.

Last updated: April 10, 2015