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Posted On: 22 September 2020 04:12 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 10:18 am

All about Qatar’s eminent Rulers, their timeline and achievements

Vrinda Abilash
Vrinda Abilash
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At the beginning of the 18th century, many tribes and families trekked from Najd and relocated to Qatar. Qatar’s seaports at the time were the main factors influencing immigration for the people who lived in Arabia’s hinterland, in view of the ports’ flourishing and booming trade culture.

History of the Ruling Family

The early ancestors of the Al Thani family migrated from “Eshaiger” in the “Al Washm” area of Najd and settled in “Yibreen”, in Qatar, according to historical facts. From there, they moved to “Askuk” in the south of Qatar, after which they moved to Ruwais, Fuwairit, and Zubarah, located in the north of the country. This is where Sheikh Thani bin Mohammed, the forefather of the family, was born. The family then settled in Doha and the process of the founding of the State of Qatar began.

During the 18th century, the timeline of modern-day Qatar began, with all the tribes unifying under the Al Thani family. This unification paved the way for getting independence from the neighbouring countries, gaining more stability in the region and in creating balanced relationships with all the different parties in the region.

Qatar’s Rulers

H.H. The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (2013 – present)

Image Credit: Amiri Diwan

His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani took over as the Amir of the State of Qatar on 25th June 2013, after the announcement of His Highness The Father Amir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, of his decision to hand over power to his Heir Apparent and the pledge of allegiance to H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Rewinding to His Highness' childhood, he was born on June 3rd, 1980 in Doha in the state of Qatar. He received his primary and secondary education here before joining at Sherborne School in the United Kingdom, where he graduated in the year 1997.

His Highness then attended the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst and graduated in the year 1998.

After graduating from there, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani joined Qatar’s Armed Forces, to gain military academic study and also gain on the field experience.

His Highness was appointed Heir Apparent and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on 5 August 2003. During this time, His Highness chaired and headed different bodies and supreme councils in various sectors, like the Supreme Council for Information and Communication Technology, the Supreme Education Council, the Supreme Council of Health, Board of Directors of Qatar Investment Authority, the Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves, Board of Trustees of Qatar University, Supreme Committee for Development Planning, and the Qatar Leadership Center

His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani contributed remarkably to the Qatar National Vision 2030, as he was entrusted with the task by the then H.H. The Amir to chair the Supreme Committee. H.H. The Amir is still actively following up on this even today.

H.H. The Amir was in the forefront for overseeing the launch of Qatar National Day. It is one of the most important ones, among the many contributions of H.H. The Amir.

Believing in the health and wellbeing of every person in the country, H.H. The Amir also greatly contributed to the launch of the National Sports Day.

With respect to political and diplomatic affairs, H.H. The Amir played a big role in unifying views among many disputing political parties through effective political dialogues hosted in the capital city, Doha.

As Amir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani became the Head of State and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. In addition to this, he also chairs the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the National Security Council and the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment.

During H.H. Sheik Tamim's tenure, Qatar is ranked the number one in capital flows, political and legislative areas, gross domestic product per capita and low unemployment rate.

The State of Qatar has also ranked first in the Higher education Quality report, humanitarian affairs, global peace index, and human development index.

H.H The Amir has received various international medals and awards for his contributions in humanitarian areas and international issues.


H.H. The Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (1995 – 2013)

Image Credit: Amiri Diwan

H.H. The Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is the former Amir of Qatar, and is one of its exemplary leaders He is the architect of the modern day Qatar. During his reign, the State of Qatar witnessed massive economic, social and cultural development.

During his reign, Qatar’s permanent constitution was formed, and “Qatar National Vision 2030” was framed.

Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani was born on January 1952 in Doha, where he was raised and completed his education. He then joined the British Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. After his graduation in 1971, he joined the Qatar Armed Forces where he was promoted till he reached the rank of Maj. Gen.

He was appointed as the Heir Apparent and Minister of Defence on 31 May 1977. HE also held the position of the Chairman of the Supreme Council for Planning.

As soon as His Highness took over as the Ruler on 27 June 1995, he brought in many developmental and reformation plans. His plans for reconstruction brought in a wave for development in the State of Qatar and his plans encompassed all sectors and industries in Qatar. The energy and economy sector saw great development under his rule. The gas production at North Field boomed, and LNG exports started from it in 1996. This led to a rapid increase in profits for the country. Qatar became the largest LNG exporter in the world in 2016.

To oversee the energy, economic and investment affairs, in October 2001 the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment was established under the chairmanship of His Highness.

The establishment of “Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development” in August 1995 to support scientific and cultural drive in the country, was among His Highness' first decisions under the chairmanship.

Then censorship of the local press was scrapped in October 1995, followed by the abolition of the Ministry of Information in 1998, giving rise to open dialogue for the media and the press. Al Jazeera TV Channel was launched in 1996 and it signified a landmark step for the country.

In 1996 Qatar held the first election of Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, under His Highness' rule, which was followed by the first elections of the central municipal council in March 1999. For the first time in the history of the country, women were granted the right to vote and stand for candidacy.

On June 8, 2004, the first permanent constitution of the State of Qatar was promulgated- after a popular historic referendum held on 29 April 2003.

Under the new Constitution, governance was founded on a system of separation of powers and their collaboration and people were the power.

Under the rule of His Highness, the country became a center for political, economic, cultural and scientific conferences.

Qatar became the first Arab and Islamic nation to win the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, under the rule of His Highness, on December 2010.

H.H. was awarded various decorations by Arab and foreign countries for strengthening bilateral relations and promoting areas of cooperation between all.

On 25 June 2013, His Highness Sheikh Hamad handed over the reins of leadership to his Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad.


Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani (1972 – 1995)

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani
Image Credit: Bloomberg

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani is the Sixth Ruler of Qatar. He was born in 1932 and in 1949, he was appointed as a Chairman of Security Affairs in Qatar and he became the first Minister of Education in the year 1957.

Sheikh Khalifa became the Heir Apparent and Deputy Ruler on October 24, 1960. On the 5 November, he assumed the portfolio of the Ministry of Finance and became the first Chairman of Qatar National Bank, after it was founded in 1964, and chaired the first Council of Ministers in 1970.

On September 3, 1971, Sheikh Khalifa declared the independence of Qatar In the same year, the law for the establishment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was issued with Sheikh Khalifa assuming its administration along with his other responsibilities. The process of Arabisation and promotion of the government’s power were adopted in Qatar during this time.

Internationally, Qatar maintained its sovereign policy through a friendship treaty with Britain on September 3, 1971.

On February 22, 1972, Sheikh Khalifa became the Amir of Qatar. He immediately started the reorganization of the government.

Great diplomatic relations were also established with various countries. A cabinet reshuffle also took place during this time.

With the expansion of the government, the education system of Qatar also took a reformation. A long list of schools were inaugrated and Qatar's first university, the University of Qatar was established in 1973. The first museum in Qatar was also established in 1975.

The state revenue from the oil sector had increased due to the signing of a number of production sharing agreements with a number of foreign oil companies. In 1991, the production of gas in the Qatari North Field, the world’s largest single non-associated gas field, commenced. The North Field has estimated reserves of more than nine hundred trillion cubic feet of gas leading to Qatar becoming an energy superpower.

Sheikh Khalifa remained the Ruler of the country until June 26, 1995. He passed away on 23 October 2016 and his body laid to rest in Al Rayyan cemetery.

Sheikh Ahmad Bin Ali Al Thani (1960 – 1972)

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Sheikh Ahmad Bin Ali Al Thani was the Fifth Ruler of Qatar. He was the first Ruler to be the holder of the title "Amir". He was born around 1920 in Doha. He became the Ruler of Qatar on October 24, 1960.

In November, 1960, under his rule, the Ministry of Finance and in 1967, the Department of Civil Service was established.

Under his reign, a large number of oil fields like the Idd al-Sharqi field – which was the first offshore field to be fully operated – and Maydan Mahzam field were discovered. This led to the establishing of the Department of Oil Affairs, Department of Legal Affairs, and the Department of Labor and Social Affairs.

An oil storage facility was built in Halul Island north of the country in 1965. These developments led to Qatar becoming an oil-rich nation from a pearl-diving nation.

On April 2, 1970, the temporary Basic law for Qatar was formulated and the Council of Ministers was formed on May 28 under the leadership of Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad, the Heir Apparent and Deputy Amir.

On September 3, 1971, Qatar’s independence was declared. This meant that the people of Qatar owed their allegiance to him as the Amir of the State of Qatar.

Sheikh Ahmad passed away on November 25, 1977, in London. His body was buried in Al-Rayyan cemetery.

Sheikh Ali Bin Abdullah Al Thani (1949 – 1960)

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Sheikh Ali Bin Abdullah Al Thani is the Fourth Ruler of Qatar. He was born around 1896. Under his rule, on December 29, 1949, the first shipment of onshore Qatari oil was exported from Messaid.

During his reign, the State of Qatar fortified relations with various Arab and countries around the world. The first British political official in Qatar was appointed in 1950.

Sheikh Ali signed an agreement with the Iraq Petroleum Company, which later became Qatar Petroleum, on September 1, 1952. On November 29, 1952, Sheikh Ali also signed an offshore agreement with the Shell Overseas Exploration Company Ltd to extract oil from the offshore fields. Under the terms of these agreements, Qatar acquired 50% of the profit from the export of oil.

Under his rule, the health sector developed and the famous Rumailah Hospital was launched in 1957.

Under his competent rule, the Clock Tower, ship harbour, the National Library, and the airport was built. Water supply networks, providing homes with free water were also installed.

In 1953 the first telephone exchange was launched in Qatar, and in 1954 the first water desalination station was inaugrated which was followed by a power generation station, providing citizens with free electricity.

Sheikh Ali was also responsible for building and refurbishing various mosques not only in Qatar, but also in Arab and European countries. He passed away on August 31, 1974 in Beirut and was laid to rest in the Al-Rayyan area in Qatar.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Jassim Al Thani (1913 – 1949)

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Sheikh Abdullah Bin Jassim Al Thani is the Third Ruler of Qatar. Born in 1871 in Al Bida, in 1906 his father, Sheikh Jassim appointed him as the Governor of Doha, to prepare him for ruling the country after him.

Sheikh Abdullah became the Ruler of Qatar on July 17, 1913. On July 29, 1913, the Anglo-Ottoman Convention was signed between Turkey and Britain which renounced all the Ottoman rights to Qatar. The Ottoman military presence in Qatar came to an end on August 19, 1915.

On November 3, 1916, Britain signed the Anglo-Qatari Treaty in accordance therewith Sheikh Abdullah agreed not to enter into any relations with any other power without the prior consent of the British Government. In return, Sir Percy Zachariah Cox, Britain’s Political Resident in the Gulf, who signed the Treaty on behalf of his Government, guaranteed the protection of Qatar from all aggression by sea, thereby Qatar had become as the last country in the Gulf to sign such treaty.

Sheikh Abdullah’s position as the most important ruler in the region was recognised by Britain in 1919, when he was awarded the order of Indian Empire Great Commander (CIE), made him the only recipient among all the Chiefs of the Trucial Coast.

On May 5, 1935 as Sheikh Abdullah renewed 1916 treaty, Britain agreed to protect Qatar from land assault in addition to the sea assault. Consequently, Sheikh Abdullah’s first Oil Concession Agreement with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company was signed in Qatar on May 17, 1935.

Qatar's first oil well was drilled in October 1938, and Dukhan is where oil was discovered in January 1940.

On June 30, 1948 Sheikh Abdullah appointed his son Sheikh Ali as Deputy Ruler, following the demise of his heir apparent and son Sheikh Hamad.

On August 5, 1949, Sheikh Abdullah signed a seabed concession with the American company “Superior Oil”, and the British Mining and Investment Corporation Ltd on August 5, 1949. He passed away on April 25, 1957.

Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani (1878 – 1913)

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Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani is the founder of the State of Qatar. He was born around 1827 and was brought up in Fuweirat.

After the passing away of his father, he succeeded him in running the country.

He encouraged education and thereby building Quranic schools, improved the harbours and shipbuilding to support the pearl trade. Under his rule, Qatar became the biggest source of pearls in this part of the world. During his rule, the population of the country increased and urbanization began.

Sheikh Jassim was a devoted supporter of the Islamic Caliphate. His relationship with the Ottoman authority became tensed, so he was granted the title of “kaimakam”, military and administrative rank. He was also given another honorary title of "Kapuji-bashi", in recognition of his de facto authority and leadership of the Qatari tribes.

The Wajbah battle is a notable event in Qatar’s history, making Sheikh Jassim an illustrious personality in the entire gulf region.

He was also a great poet of vernacular poetry called "Nabati poetry". He also wrote his own poems.

The date of the succession of Sheikh Jassim, December 18, 1878, is today celebrated as the National Day that the State of Qatar. Sheikh Jassim passed away on 13 Shaban 1331 AH, which corresponds to July 17, 1913.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Thani (1851 – 1878)

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Sheikh Mohammed Bin Thani is the 1st Ruler of Qatar. He was born around 1776 in the northeast part of Qatar in Fuweirat, where he became the Chief of his tribe in the year 1839.

In 1848, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Thani moved to Doha, becoming its Chief.

Sheikh Mohammed became the Ruler of Qatar in 1851. He unified all the leading tribes of Qatar under the purple-red banner that eventually became the flag of the country.

He signed an agreement on September 12, 1868, with the British Political Resident Col. Lewis Pelly, which was considered as the first international recognition of the sovereignty of Qatar under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed.

Sheikh Mohammed, at the regional level, cemented his position through an alliance with Imam Faisal Bin Turki, the Amir of the second Saudi Arabia State, and received him in Qatar in 1851. He passed away on December 18, 1878.

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Source: Amiri Diwan