Historical Overview

Human habitation of the Qatar Peninsula dates far back to nearly four thousand years BC, according to archaeological evidences, excavations, inscriptions and scarce potteries found in various areas of the country. 

In the 5th century BC, the Greek historian Herodotus referred that the first dwellers of Qatar were the Canaanite tribes, who were known for their navigation and naval commerce. Furthermore, the Greek geographer Ptolemy’s so-called Map of Arabia included as well what Ptolemy himself then called “Qatra”, which is thought to be a reference to the Zubara city, being previously one of the most important commercial ports in the Gulf area.

Qatar played a vital role as narrated by the Arab-Muslim historical sources. The Qatari dwellers involved themselves in preparing the first naval fleet to transport armies during the Muslim conquests. 

Under the Abbasid rule during the eighth Hijri century (14th AD), Qatar witnessed a period of economic prosperity as made evident by the written records found in the Maroub Fort on the western coast that represents the Abbasid architectural character.

Upon their military alliance with the Turks during the tenth Hijri century (16th AD), the Qataris could drive the Portuguese away, and that was the beginning of the rule of the Ottoman Empire over the whole Arabian Peninsula including Qatar for about four successive centuries.

The Turkish rule in the region, however, declined with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and a treaty was entered with Britain in 1916 providing for the protection of the Qatari lands and people. The British authority was restricted mostly to its supervision on some administrative affairs.

Qatar was ruled by the Al-Thani Dynasty, after its leader Thani bin Mohammad — father of Sheikh Mohammad bin Thani, who was the first sheikh later on to have an actual power over the Qatari Peninsula during the mid-nineteenth century.

Being a descendent of the Bani Tameem Tribe with their ancestral lineage dating back to Mudhar bin Nizar, the Al-Thanis settled on the Jibrin Oasis in the south of Nejd prior to their movement to the north of the Qatari Peninsula. Then, they moved to Doha in the mid nineteenth century under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammad bin Thani.

Under the Abbasid rule during the eighth Hijri century (14th AD), Qatar witnessed a period of economic prosperity as made evident by the written records found in the Maroub Fort on the western coast that represents the Abbasid architectural character.

Upon their military alliance with the Turks during the tenth Hijri century (16th AD), the Qataris could drive the Portuguese away, and that was the beginning of the rule of the Ottoman Empire over the whole Arabian Peninsula including Qatar for about four successive centuries.

The Turkish rule in the region, however, declined with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and a treaty was entered with Britain in 1916 providing for the protection of the Qatari lands and people. The British authority was restricted mostly to its supervision on some administrative affairs.

Qatar was ruled by the Al-Thani Dynasty, after its leader Thani bin Mohammad — father of Sheikh Mohammad bin Thani, who was the first sheikh later on to have an actual power over the Qatari Peninsula during the mid-nineteenth century.

Being a descendent of the Bani Tameem Tribe with their ancestral lineage dating back to Mudhar bin Nizar, the Al-Thanis settled on the Jibrin Oasis in the south of Nejd prior to their movement to the north of the Qatari Peninsula. Then, they moved to Doha in the mid nineteenth century under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammad bin Thani.

Qatar's Rulers

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Thani (1851 – 1878)

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Thani is the first Ruler of Qatar and one of its eminent leaders. He united the Qatari tribes and the country in a difficult stage, and was known of wisdom, far-sightedness and love of literature and poetry.

Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani (1878 – 1913)

Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Thani is The founder of the State of Qatar. A military leader, judge and scholar, knight and poet possessing both gallantry and magnanimity. For the sake of defending Qatar he fought many wars, and perils could not impede his inclination to defy hardships, end injustice and protect the oppressed.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Jassim Al Thani (1913 – 1949)

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Jassim Al Thani is the third Ruler of the State of Qatar. He was known for his piety, righteousness and vast knowledge. During his tenure the first oil well was drilled in the country. He proved himself as a shrewd and gifted negotiator during the negotiations with oil companies. He was a far-sighted statesman.

Sheikh Ali Bin Abdullah Al Thani (1949 – 1960)

Sheikh Ali Bin Abdullah Al Thani is the fourth Ruler of the State of Qatar. He was known by  solemnity wisdom, forbearance, pursuance of a path of conciliation and consolidation of common word, the high moral character, high  personal traits and noble qualities. During his tenure the country exported the first oil shipment, marking the actual entry into the oil age, and a new period of social and economic development.

Sheikh Ahmad Bin Ali Al Thani (1960 – 1972)

The Fifth Ruler of Qatar and the first Ruler to bear the title "Amir". He was noted for his solemnity, wisdom and careful discretion in tackling issues. He followed a path of conciliation and consolidation of common word, during his reign the Shura (advisory) Council was formed and the first interim basic law was promulgated.

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani (1972 – 1995 )

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani is the Sixth Ruler of the State of Qatar. His reign had seen many achievements such as the re-organization of the government, the Interim Basic law was amended, the country concluded a number of agreements to extract and market oil, schools and colleges were set up and the first university in the country was established.

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

Former Amir of the State of Qatar, one of its iconic leaders, and the architect of its modern revival. During his reign, which witnessed massive economic, social and cultural development, the State of Qatar extended its status among the Arab and international community. The  GDP increased by more than 24 folds, and per capita GDP by about six folds, while gross value added in the hydrocarbon sector jumped from 11 billion to 403 billion Qatari Riyals.

During his tenure the country’s permanent constitution was promulgated, and “Qatar National Vision 2030”, which seeks to promote a drive towards a knowledge-based economy, and transform Qatar into an advanced country capable of achieving sustainable development and ensuring the continuation of a decent life for its people, generation after generation, was framed.

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