Port Cities in the Gulf and the Red Sea During the Long Eighteenth Century (c. 1720–c. 1840): General Characteristics and Some Comparisons with Southeast Asia
This article discusses the development of port cities in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea area between approximately 1720 and 1840. It analyses flows of commodities, shipping and financial networks, the mobility of traders and the activities of trading organisations, such as the Dutch VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie) or the EIC (British East India Company). The article also critically assesses the role of country trade and of the VOC and EIC and the British Empire in the macro-region. It finally takes the reader to raise the question of to what extent the Europeans and European colonialism actually qualitatively changed the economic system that had prevailed across the Indian Ocean for centuries. The article shows that while quantitatively speaking much more commerce was going on in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries than previously, qualitatively speaking the changes were not so great as has been frequently assumed.