Kuwait's 1940 pearl diving law: the first codification of pearling law in the Gulf

[Regulations for pearl fishing in Kuwait]. Qanun al-ghawasin fi'l Kuwayt ("Manual of the [pearl] divers in Kuwait").

Kuwait City, Sadr government press, 1359 H / AD 1940.

12mo. (2), 20 pp. Publisher's original printed brown cloth.

An extremely rare survival: the first codification of the laws and regulations governing Kuwaiti pearl divers, dealers, and captains of pearling dhows. At the time, this publication was unique for the entire Gulf region: previously, the organisation of the marine professions, as well as any disputes that arose among them, fell into the remit of an arbitration board known as Al-Salfa. With an ever-increasing demand for ever-scarcer pearls in the early 20th century, the pressures on the Salfa board became too many and too exacting, and in 1940 this first official law was approved by Kuwait's legislative council under the Emir Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. This 51-article law not only effectively regulated disputes over matters pertaining to the pearl diving and fishing professions, but also ensured the rights of workers and their families, protecting labourers' assets during their lifetime as well as in case of death.

"Kuwait has one of the longest commercial maritime traditions of any Arab Gulf State. From approximately the middle of the 18th century (when the present Ruling Family, the Al Sabah, emerged as Emirs of Kuwait) Kuwait began to develop a commercial trading, fishing and pearl diving fleet of considerable importance to the economy of the Emirate [...] Both, on the one hand, the importance to the Kuwait economy of maritime activity in its various forms and, on the other, the generally somewhat restricted and local nature of such activities are reflected by the first maritime laws enacted in Kuwait - the [fairly detailed 51-article] Law of Pearl Diving [from 1940 ...]. In 1959 a much more modern maritime enactment was introduced in the form of the Maritime Law (Law No. 2 of 1959) of that year" (R. Price, The Maritime Laws of the Arabian Gulf Cooperations Council States [1986], vol. 1, p. 32).

Original cloth boards a little rubbed, but clean and unmarked throughout. No copy traced in library catalogues internationally.