Saudi Customs Tariffs for 1357 AH


This booklet, Al-Taʻrifah al-jumrukīyah sanat 1357 (Saudi customs tariffs for 1357 AH), published by the finance ministry of Saudi Arabia, which contains schedules for the Saudi tariffs for the Hijri year of 1357 (1938‒39), offers insights into the workings of the Saudi economy before large-scale development of the oil industry in the 1950s. The publication begins with a one-page bayan (declaration) specifying the values of the official currency, weights, and measures in the kingdom. This is followed by the tariff schedules, with import items ordered alphabetically. The schedules start with the imports, and include tables for categories such as spare parts for automobiles, hardware, and groceries, followed by schedules for exports. A 34-page addendum provides alphabetically ordered notes that explain the laws or make exceptions to them, with each note published on a separate sheet of paper. Some pages have handwritten additions in red, correcting errors and omissions in the original print. An interesting item in the imports table is hand-rolled cigarettes and tobacco, the use of which was common in the Hejaz region, especially before it was annexed by King Abdulaziz ibn Saud to form the united political entity known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Cigarettes were imported from Syria and Egypt, but also from Aden, at the time a British protectorate. The founder of the kingdom, King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, and his son and immediate successor, King Saud, came under pressure from Britain to open up Saudi markets for British tobacco imports at a time when oil revenues had not yet had any significant effect on the Saudi economy. The booklet was printed at the Umm al-Qura Press, which was established around 1885 as the first printing house in the Kingdom of Hejaz. The copy presented here is from the collections of the Law Library of the Library of Congress.

Last updated: May 9, 2016