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From before 1511-1967From before 1511-1967


Mahra Sultanate
Also called: Mahra Sultanate of Qishn and Socotra or Mahra Sultanate of Ghayda and Socotra or Mahra State



Flag of the Mahra Sultanate

Flag of the Mahra Sultanate

Traditional house of Al-Ghayda, Yemen

Traditional house of Al-Ghayda, Yemen

Stamp of Mahra State
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

Stamps of Mahra State
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Tribal sultanate in the lands corresponding to modern eastern Yemen and the island of Socotra, from before 1511 until 1967, lasting 500 years or more.
The inhabitants were largely Mahra people speaking the South Arabian language Mehri.
The sultanate never developed any formal administration, and its structures were tribal with great autonomy for local rulers, shaykhs. The sultan ruled from the coastal town of Qishn, and was of the Banu Afrar tribe.
Although conveniently located, protected by mountains catching part of the monsoon, thereby permitting effective, although limited agriculture, rich fisheries and a location next to the main trade routes of the early modern world, the Mahra Sultanate did little to develop itself over the centuries. The export product that allowed the sultanate enough force to make expansions in the 16th century, frankincense, remained the only export product in the 19th century, when the realities of an international world moving closer motivated the signing of an agreement with the British for protection in the late 19th century.
The main language of the sultanate was Mehri, the largest of the surviving South Arabian languages.

History
The beginnings of the sultanate is little researched, and may well stretch back long time before it made the first mark on history in the early 16th century. Recent archaeological expeditions show that civilization began here some 2,500 years ago.
1511: Troops of the Mahra sultan conquer Socotra from the Portuguese.
1886: The sultanate agrees to become a British protectorate. Mahra would later be incorporated into the Aden Protectorate.
1967: The sultanate is abolished, and Mahra becomes part of South Yemen.




By Tore Kjeilen