Muhammad Eid Al-Rawwaf, Consul of Najd and Hijaz in Damascus and the Albert Harris imports: a new find
By Edouard Aldahdah
Posted on January 20th, 2015 in Saudi
This fascinating article (in Arabic) reveals that King Abd al-Aziz Aal Saud, upon founding the Kingdom of Najd, Hijaz and its dependencies (which in 1932 became the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) entrusted the responsibility of representing his Kingdom before other Arab countries to members of the Agheylat corporation (see below about them). This makes a lot of sense since the Agheylat had developed deep commercial ties with many of these countries, including Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon, where they maintained trading offices.
Sheykh Fawzan al-Sabiq, the King’s first ambassador to Egypt (in 1926), appears as the most famous of these early Agheylat diplomats, according to the article. His brother Abd al-Aziz was indeed a horse merchant established in Egypt. Other early Saudi diplomats from the Agheylat include Mansur al-Rumayh, Hamoud al-Barrak, al-Rabdi and al-‘Usaymi.
The most pleasant surprise, and one that will enable us to shed further light on the history of several desert-bred Arabians imported to the USA, is the inclusion of the name of Muhammad Eid al-Rawwaf among these diplomats hailing from Agheylat families. He appears as the governor of Jeddah in the 1930s, before being appointed as the Saudi representative to Baghdad. He belonged to an influential family of Agheylat from Buraydah.
Arabian horse historians will remember a “Mohamed Ed El Rouaf”, Consul of the Sultanate of Hijaz and Najd as the signatory of the export papers of the four imports of Albert Harris, *Nufoud, *Dahma, *Tairah, and *Samirah, in 1932, and as the registered breeder of *Sunshine. I was able to find his trace online, in several places. This newspaper article identifies members of the Rawwaf family as the King’s agents in “Sham” (Greater Syria), meaning Lebanon and Syria. This article references a book which contains a picture of the members of the first Saudi study-abroad group of students, and it includes Muhammad Eid Al-Rawwaf. Finally, a Wikipedia entry identifies Muhammad Eid al-Rawwaf as the King’s Consul in Damascus (there was no embassy then since Syria was not an independent country but a French protectorate), but does not provide dates. Finally, I found the gold prize: the Arabic text of a letter, published in Amin Rihani’s book “Correspondence between King Abd al-Aziz Aal Saud and Amin Rihani” (Dar Amwaaj, Beirut, 2001). Here is the text of the letter (quick English translation mine):
In the name of God the Merciful the Compassionate
To the dearest friend, the honorable Mr. Amin Effendi Al-Rihani
Salutations and respects; after which, I extend to you wishes of health, strength and prosperity, and send you the attached three certificates concerning the mares Samirah, Dahna, and Nufoud, after I finalized them and sealed them; the reason for my delay in sending them to you stems from the difficulty of getting the French Consulate to stamp them. I am also returning to you the four certificates that came from the High Diwan in your name. Please send my regards to Mr. Yussef Effendi, and to his son the writer, and to the family, and I conclude my message by thanking you for your brotherly feelings, please accept the expression of my utmost respect.
Muhammad Eid Al-Rawwaf
Damascus, 18 Jumada al-Awwal 1351 H, corresponding to 18 September 1932.
I wonder where the actual certificates are. I would not be surprised if they were among his family papers in Rihani’s museum in the village of Freikeh, Lebanon. Below, a picture of Muhammad Eid Al-Rawwaf (in Arab dress), surrounded by Consuls of Spain, Italy, Austria and Belgium in Damascus, at the reception held by the French High Commissioner in Damascus (who is the military man in white, to the right) on the occasion of the French National Holiday, July 14th, 1930. The picture is from the Emirati newspaper Al-Bayan.