The strategic location and vast petroleum resources of the G ulf states are the principal reasons for their present overwhelming impor­ tance in international affairs. A brief glance at a map of the region, however, reveals the consequences of this prominence: a complex of neutral zones, undefined and disputed boundaries, and territorial claims and counter-claims. The rapidity with which the G ulf states have had to come to terms with the Western concepts of territorial and even offshore limits has only added to the confusion, for nothing is more alien to Arab society (bedouin and other) than the permanent delineation of boundaries. The first time it occurred in eastern Arabia was at the 1922 Conference of ‘Uqayr between Percy Cox and Ibn Sa ‘ud; it was then that Cox formulated the concept of neutral zones as a solution to the problem of disputed areas the exact ownership of which could not conveniently be settled by negotiation.