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50 Years Ago: £400 for a Slave

£400 for a Slave

Fairly recently King Saud of Saudi Arabia visited “the land of the free”—the United States of America, where he was feted by President Eisenhower, and other American politicians. Little is known of his country except that there is sand—and more important—oil, in Saudi Arabia. But a recent United Nations report (News Chronicle, 22/ 2/57) gives us some idea just how “free” and democratic King Saud’s oil-soaked land is.

According to the report Saudi Arabia has 450,000 slaves— just 20% of the population. Prices on the Jeddah slave market were said to be between £200 and £400 for a girl under 5; £ 150 for a man under 40 and £40 for an old woman. Like Christian Archbishops who also live quite well, Moslem Kings, such as King Saud, do not condemn slavery—chattel slavery in Arabia, and wage-slavery in Britain!

(from “Odds and Ends” by Peter E. Newell, Socialist Standard, April 1957)