Ben Arrona

Ben Arrona

College Email Address: 

Research Topic

St. John Philby, Sharqieh Ltd., and the creation of Saudi oil dominance.

Supervisor: Professor Catherine Schenk


I am currently a doctoral student in History at St Antony's – Oxford. I have a BA in Criminal Justice from Columbia College, a MA in Islamic Studies from Columbia University, and a MA in history from California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo. 


My research is an examination of Harry Bridger Philby, better known as St. John Philby, and his involvement in the creation, implantation, and lasting impact of Sharqieh Ltd. The goal of my archival research is to develop a concise narrative of Sharqieh Ltd. and its role in the early development of trade, infrastructure, and resource exploration and acquisition in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


My project will consist of an in depth archival analysis of the early development of infrastructure, i.e.: the building of roads, airports, dams, as well the importation of technology, i.e.: telephone, electrical, automotive, aeronautical, and resource exploration and acquisition technologies accomplished by Sharqieh Ldt. that aided in the “modernization” of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as the commercialization of the Hajj pilgrimage. Because of the early work of Sharqieh, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was, and continues to, greatly benefit economically and politically from its abundance of oil reserves, geopolitical strategic location, and its role as the Khādim al-Ḥaramayn aš-Šarīfayn, Servant of the Two Noble Sanctuaries in Mecca and Medina.