A tale of two Spice Islands

Portsmouth’s Famous Resident Leaves

“Spice Island” is a nickname given to the old part of Portsmouth, as well as the Island of Zanzibar given to both for their contributions to the trade in spices. In Portsmouth,the historic part of the city is nicknamed ‘Spice Island’ as the fragrance of exotic spices from the port could be smelled in this part of town. Spices from around the world would land in Portsmouth before being distributed across the UK. Conversely each household in Zanzibar was encouraged to grow a clove plant and the island quickly built a trade in producing spices for the world, something it still does to this day, earning its name.

Many discovered this month that Portsmouth and Zanzibar have another connection, a hidden piece of trivia that has surprised us all! Our city has mostly unknowingly hosted the Sultan of Zanzibar, Sayyid Jamshid bin Abdullah for over half a century. This month it was announced that our only resident Monarch has left Southsea with its Victorian buildings, promenade and unpredictable weather to retire in the palm filled, Gulf state of Oman.

Sultan Jamshid made Portsmouth his home, after fleeing Zanzibar on a royal yacht after a popular revolt. At the time he had requested entry into Oman, but Oman refused his request for security reasons. In 1964 he arrived in the UK with an entourage of 61 relatives, friends and household staff. After a short stay in London he decided to settle into a semi-detached house in quiet Southsea. He brought with him his wife and five children who were all raised in Portsmouth.

Sultan Jamshid, had hoped he would be able to return to Oman where many of his relatives lived. Sadly, this was not possible due to the security risk. The change in leadership in 2019 with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said coming to power meant that when the family made the request to return to Oman again it was granted. Sultan Jamshid fulfilled his dream to retire to the warmer weather of Oman when he left the UK in September.
Here is an article about Sultan leaving the UK

Zanzibar, is made up of a series of Islands off the coast of Tanzania, has a diverse population which reflects its History, with a diverse population of 1.3 million people including Shirazis (a native population that dates back to Persian settlers), Arabs, Swahili and South Asians. The Island has always had close ties with Oman, as it was ruled by Oman from 1698 to 1890. In Oman there are about 22,000 people who speak Swahili, an East African language that is common in Zanzibar, the majority are descendants that moved to Oman after the fall of the Sultanate of Zanzibar. Many Omani’s travel to Zanzibar often, as some still have family living on the island, while others want to explore their ancestral history.

Portsmouth is a city full of history and now we can add a royal story into the mix of Naval and Literary History.

Find out more about Zanzibar