A small, sleepy port in the Persian Gulf, Bandar-e Lengeh has had a varied and checkered history since its launch onto the historical scene around 1750. In those days the tribal people of the region felt at home on both sides of the Gulf and often went to wherever they thought would offer them a better life. When the Qavasem Arabs moved to Lengeh and developed it, they turned it from a sleepy fishing town into a pirate's nest. They, together with their kith and kin in Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah, became the scourge of the Gulf until 1819 when the British burnt all three ports to the ground. After this, convinced that piracy was not worth the cost, the people of Lengeh became peaceful, and very successful as traders and pearl fishers. Lengeh became the distribution center for the entire Arabian Coast and rivaled Bahrain as the pearl clearing center of the Gulf. This success attracted people from all over the Gulf to come and live in Lengeh, making it a symbol of the Gulf migratory culture (havaleh).
Lengeh's success and prosperity did not end because of competition, but because in 1903 the Iranian government enacted a new customs regime for all their ports-but Lengeh was an "Arabian" port located in Iran. As a result, Lengeh lost its competitive position to Dubai, which opened its doors to many of Lengeh's merchants. Thereafter, Lengeh declined and by 1930 it was once again a minor port and fishing town. The Persian Gulf: The Rise and Fall of Bandar-e Lengeh, The Distribution Center for the Arabian Coast, 1750-1930 is the third volume of the Persian Gulf series by Willem Floor. This book is a rich compendium of Iranian, Dutch, and British reports and primary sources. It is also full of enthralling research into the work of travelers in the region. While it is essential reading for all scholars of the history of the Gulf, it is also informative and satisfying for those readers interested in the history of the region in general. The previous volumes of the series are: The Persian Gulf: A Political and Economic History of 5 Port Cities, 1500-1750, and The Persian Gulf: The Rise of the Gulf Arabs, The Politics of Trade on the Persian Littoral, 1747-1792.