"Trade and Empire in Muscat and Zanzibar" examines the role of Oman in the Indian Ocean prior to British domination of the region. Omani merchant communities played a crucial part in the development of commercial activity throughout the territories they held in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, especially between Muscat and Zanzibar, using long-established trade networks. They were also largely responsible for the integration of the commerce of the Indian Ocean into the emerging global capitalist system. M. Reda Bhacker himself a member of an important Omani merchant family provides a detailed examination of the complex relationship between the merchant community and Oman's rulers. He analyzes the tribal and religious dynamics of Omani politics both in Arabia, with special emphasis given to the Wahhabi/Saudi threat, and in Oman's sprawling territory, particularly in Zanzibar, where the Omani ruler Sa'id b Sultan had his court from 1840. The author finds that the merchant communities and the governments in the region were unable to respond to Britain's determined onslaught, despite their power and prestige. He traces the local and regional factors that allowed Britain to destroy Oman's largely commercial challenge, and to emerge by the end of the nineteenth century as the dominant commercial and political power in the region.

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