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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule
Grand Vestibule: The British Monarchy and the World

The Grand Vestibule at Windsor Castle reflects interaction between the monarchy and the wider world

BAHRAIN

Sabre and scabbard

nineteenth century

RCIN 62892

Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa, Sheikh of Bahrain (1872–1942), gave this sword to King Edward VIII in 1936. An accompanying note explains that it is named 'Al Masaul':

It is over 100 years old and is a well-known sword among the Arabs. It once belonged to an Arab mainland tribe and has been used in tribal warfare. It was given to His Excellency [the Sheikh] by the head of the tribe which was victorious.

 

It is over 100 years old and is a well-known sword among the Arabs. It once belonged to an Arab mainland tribe and has been used in tribal warfare. It was given to His Excellency [the Sheikh] by the head of the tribe which was victorious.

 

The gold scabbard is studded with pearls, whose retrieval and export formed a vital part of the Bahraini economy in the early twentieth century. Pearl diving has been known in Bahrain for thousands of years, and the industry was an important source of income before the discovery of oil.

Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa was the first reigning sheikh of Bahrain to visit Britain. He spent two weeks as a guest of the British government in June and July 1936. During his visit, he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire by the king. On his departure, he remarked,

Although Bahrein [sic] is a very long way from England yet I feel that this visit has brought the two countries nearer and has strengthened the friendship between Great Britain and Bahrein which has existed for so many years.


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