During the years 1797-1820 the Qasimi Arabs or Qawasim, inhabitants of the present day United Arab Emirates, acquired an enduring reputation as ruthless pirates. Some of their victims flew the British flag, and thus their actions were to provide the initial stimulus and justification for 150 years of British involvement in the Gulf. Recently, however, it has been doubted whether the Qawasim were in fact pirates. In a scholarly but accessible account founded on contemporary sources, illustrated with testimonies of eye-witnesses and participants, this book sets out to decide this controversial question. By making use of valuable and hitherto untapped archival material, Charles Davies strongly evokes a flavour of life in the Gulf in this turbulent and formative period in the Gulf's history. This book represents the first in-depth investigation into this controversial subject. It is based on original research and and helps to explain why the Gulf is as it is today.