The UAE will host Expo 2020!


 


The Past

2,000 - 200 years ago
Portuguese


















When Bartholomew Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1487/8 he opened the way for direct, seaborne traffic between Europe and India. The fact that this was an achievement of Portugal meant that this small, Iberian kingdom was able to race past her competitors and build an empire in the East without rival for the next 400 years.

Dias was followed by Joao Peres de Covilhao, who set out in the same year to seek out the origins of the spices so highly sought after by Europe's markets. A decade later Vasco da Gama sailed all the way from Lisbon to India, and soon it became a Portuguese goal to wrest control of trade in the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea and western Indian Ocean from Arab competitors, and to secure it for the Portuguese crown.

With this in mind, Affonso d'Albuquerque set sail in 1506, intent on founding a Portuguese empire in the East. The area of the Emirates soon became a target. After sacking Sohar, he pillaged and burnt to the ground the Fujairah port of Khor Fakkan, before overwhelming Hormuz. Over the succeeding decades the Portuguese invested considerable time and energy in trying to keep order along the coasts of Arabia, as local tribes rebelled against Portuguese control, and in fending off challenges from Ottoman Turkey. In the Emirates, Portuguese forts were constructed all along the East Coast beginning in the north at Dibba and proceeding south to Khor Fakkan, Bidya and Kalba, and on the Gulf coast at Julfar. Remnants of the Portuguese forts have been located at Bidya and Julfar, but the ruins of the remaining ones continue to elude archaeologists and historians. Watercolour miniatures of these forts can be found in the Livro do Estado da India Oriental, published in 1636.

By the early seventeenth century the Portuguese were beginning to suffer from the efforts of the East India Company and the Safavids to expel them from the region. They were dislodged from their base on Bahrain in 1602, from Bandar Abbas in southern Iran in 1615, and from Julfar in 1620. The Portuguese finally lost their hold on Muscat in 1650, and so ended the Portuguese adventure in southeastern Arabia.


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