One volume was probably a working copy of the proposal, as it has annotations, Arabic notes on geographical places in the area, corrections on the quotes and numbers, and a rougher map of the railway. The other volume, in much tidier condition, is likely to have been intended as the presentation copy of the proposal.
The work looks in detail at the area of Mecca and Jeddah and the implications and benefits of building a railway to connect the two centres. It was proposed that this train line would increase trade as well as the movement of population between the two cities. The project must have been presented to someone important as in one passage in the proposal it is mentioned that the import duty payable on the materials could be waived by the Ottoman government as the project was of great public utility.
"Si le gouvernement Ottoman perçoit les droits de douane selon le tarif ordinaire on devra payer 7.2% du valeur du matériel ; donc 7.2% de 1840588 francs ou 132522 frs ou bien en chiffres ronds 133000 frs. Il est possible que le gouvernement Turque voudra bien ajouter a la concession pour la construction d’un chemin de fer la licence d’importer tout le matériel en franchise de droits parce que le travail a faire est d’une grande utilité publique. Mais pourtant on devra calculer cette dépense pour ne pas avoir des désappointements." (p.62)
The watermarked fly-leaves and the binding date the manuscript to the beginning of the 1900s (the watermark reading Dorling & Co 1899 and Dorling & Co 1900); while the four advertisements from Decauville can be dated to 1893 and 1894.
Decauville was a railway company founded in the second half of the nineteenth century in France by Paul Decauville (1846-1922). Specialised in light rail, by the end of the nineteenth century its products were quite popular, used by the French military within the country as well as sold abroad, for example in Tehran by 1889 and used in Saigon in 1896.
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