In attendance were all the rulers of the Trucial Coast (now the United Arab Emirates) along with other guests from the region.
The Durbar (Persian darbār 'court'), as such performances were known, was part of a tour of the Gulf that was conceived by Curzon as a way of shoring up the frontiers of the Indian Empire against the threat of the other European powers.
This kind of ritual was a feature of rule borrowed by the British from the Mughal emperors they had replaced in India. It was an act of royal incorporation, designed to establish, legitimise, and entrench the hierarchies of empire.
A photograph from the Dane collection at the British Library shows:
- Curzon, enthroned at centre stage,
- surrounded by the symbols of Indian Empire (the carpets, the guard of men behind) &
- British monarchical authority (the crowns in the roof of the tent, the Christian cross),
- To the Viceroy’s right sit the Arab dignitaries; some, deprived of chairs, are kneeling or sitting on the floor.