The conventional historiography claims that the East African slave trade came to an end in the 1880s as a result of the British Royal Navy's diligent patrols in the Indian Ocean. This paper argues instead that the slave trade from East Africa to Eastern Arabia endured long after the 1880s, in part because sustained demand for slave labor in Arabia and the Gulf–particularly in the lucrative pearl and date industries–remained high through the early twentieth century. The Royal Navy's celebrated antislavery campaign in the Indian Ocean was largely ineffective and was not the main factor in ending the slave trade. Instead, the East African slave trade came to an end mainly as a result of three factors beyond British control: (1) a raid by Portuguese forces against slave traders in Mozambique in 1902, (2) the development new sources of slave labor from neighboring Baluchistan, and (3) the collapse of Arabian date and pearl markets as a result of globalization and global depression.

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