This paper examines the economic conditions that generated demand for slave labor in Arabia in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The existing historiography has tended to emphasize a cultural or religious basis for slavery in the region, ignoring the expanding global markets for Arabian commodities that fueled demand for slave labor. This paper argues that growing markets for Arabian pearls and dates in Europe and North America helped drive the slave trade from east Africa to eastern Arabia and the Gulf. Globalization helped spread Arabian commodities to markets around the world but ultimately helped destroy the Gulf's most important export markets when industrialized states replaced Gulf pearls and dates with products of their own.

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