Southwest Arabia: Mecca, Sheet 8


This map is part of a series of nine large-scale depictions of the southwestern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. The map covers the region from Mecca and its port of Jeddah (now Jiddah) in the north to the southern town of al-Līth on the Red Sea and the arid areas towards the southwest. The entire region is known as Hijaz, or Hejaz. Much of the Arabian Peninsula was part of the Ottoman Empire, and Mecca played a crucial role in the British campaign to wrest the entire Middle East from Ottoman control during the First World War. It was in Mecca that Sharif Husayn ibn ʻAli, ruler of the Hijaz, had his capital. In a 1915−16 exchange of correspondence with Sir Henry McMahon, Husayn formed a military alliance with the British against his Ottoman suzerain. In return, McMahon promised an independent state for the Arabs with Husayn as king, an offer that was undermined by a contradictory deal with the French in the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. The consequences of these diplomatic and political maneuvers laid the foundations for today’s alignment of states in the Middle East. The map was created by the British Ordnance Survey in cooperation with the Geographical Section of the General Staff at the War Office, which published the series of maps of the southwestern peninsula covering Ta’izz, Mecca, Taʼif, Kunfuda (or al-Qunfudhah), Wadi Bishah, Abha, Wadi Shehran, Saada, and Sanaʻa. The geography and ethnography is the product of research by Francis Richard Maunsell (1861−1929), a British army intelligence officer, traveler, and mapmaker. Maunsell’s listed sources date from 1824−1916 and include a Turkish staff map, Admiralty charts, and German, French, and British works. There is a small glossary of Arabic topographical terms. Distance scales are given in kilometers and miles, and relief is indicated by contour lines and spot elevations in feet.

Last updated: March 21, 2016