Qatar’s history is closely linked to the Gulf region and the Arabian Peninsula, and the country became its own state formation only in modern times, and as an independent state in 1971. Human activity in the area has been demonstrated from prehistoric times. The country’s strategic location on the Gulf of Persia contributed to immigration and trade, including Mesopotamia and India.
In the 600s, Qatar became Islamized. In 1076, the country was conquered by the emir of Bahrain; later Qatar came under Portuguese, Ottoman and British influence. Qatar’s ruling family, al-Thani, was deployed by the British in 1867, and the same dynasty is still in power. After internal strife in the al-Thani dynasty, Hamad ibn Khalifa al-Thani seized power in a palace coup in 1995. A new constitution came into force in 2005, including universal suffrage – but without weakening the emir’s power.
Archaeological finds testify to human activity in Qatar already in prehistoric times, from 7500-8500 years ago, with hunting, fishing and sinking in the Stone Age. The country’s strategic location on the Persian Gulf contributed to migration from the Arabian Peninsula, and several fishing communities were established. Excavations at Sahgra southeast of the country testify to how important the sea was to people who settled here.
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Qatar participated in ancient trade between the Gulf and Mesopotamia as early as the al-Ubaidi period (in the 5th and 4th millennium BCE) as well as with India; Trade across the Indian Ocean gained a boost from the 20th century. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Qatar. Thanks to trade, Qatar emerged as one of the most prosperous parts of the golf area as early as the 3rd and 2nd millennium BCE. Trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley went through the Gulf and the west coast of today’s Qatar. The contact with the outside world contributed to several cultures establishing themselves on the Qatar Peninsula for different periods. In the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE. the area was affected by the Cassites who had taken power in Babylon, settling in al-Kore Bay north of Doha.
Trade in antiquity, between the Greek and Roman kingdoms of Europe and India, also went by sea through the Gulf. Archaeological finds show influence on the Qatar Peninsula especially at Ras Abaruk, where it was a fishing station, to supply the seafaring traders. Both fish and pearls were Qatar export items during the Greco-Roman era.
Also in the Persian Sasanidic period, around the 20th century BCE. Qatar and the Gulf region played an important role as a trading center. Dyes, clothes, pearls, gold, silver and dates were exchanged for goods from the East; Qatar especially contributed pearls and purple dye to dye clothing, derived from snails.
In the 600s, Qatar was Islamized through the influence of Bahrain, which the area was under the influence of. The Prophet sent his first envoy Al Ala al-Hadami to the ruler of Bahrain in 628, and Islam was accepted as religion. Qatari storytelling believes that Prophet Muhammad himself as well as his wife Aisha dressed in Qatar robbery. In the early Islamic period, al-Huwailah on the east coast was the most important city in the country, where today there are archaeological finds.
In 1076, the country was conquered by the emir of Bahrain; Bahrain then covered the area from Basra in today’s Iraq to Oman. Under the Islamic Umayyad and Abbasid regime, from Damascus and Baghdad respectively, Qatar’s importance as a trading center continued to grow, and the area became known for camels and horses as well, while the pearl industry developed as a result of increased demand for Qatar pearls in the East, all the way to China. With increased trade, new settlements along the coast were established, especially in the north.
After a short period of Portuguese occupation in the early 16th century, when Portugal took control of the Strait of Hormuz and established trade relations, Qatar underwent a flourishing period thanks to revenue from pearl fishing. In 1538, the Portuguese were expelled by the Ottomans, and Qatar was placed under the Ottoman sphere of interest until the British established their presence in the country in the 19th century – to protect their trade interests eastward.
The history of Qatar as a modern state can be linked to 1766, when the al-Khalifa family immigrated from today’s Kuwait to the new city of az-Zubarah, which became a center for pearl diving and trade; today a ruin city in the north of the country. In 1783, the family led the conquest of today’s Bahrain, where it is still in power. Subsequently, Qatar was led by various Sheikhs during a period of turmoil and strife, and the country became part of what Britain referred to as the Pirate Coast.
Britain imposed on the Arab rulers a so-called peace treaty in the 1820s, which also included Qatar, although the country’s ruler did not sign it. Qatar was also subject to the maritime ceasefire agreement of 1835, which extended British control.
The al-Khalifa family continued to claim parts of Qatar, which led to a brief war between Bahrain and Qatar in 1867-68. This was in breach of an agreement between Bahrain and the United Kingdom from 1820, and led to British intervention in – and later control of – Qatar as well as other parts of the coast. The British deployed 1867 Muhammad ibn al-Thani as ruler; the same al-Thani dynasty is still in power in the country.
In 1868, Sheikh Muhammad ibn al-Thani signed a maritime peace treaty with the United Kingdom, but at the same time did not want to be too dependent on the British. When Ottoman forces occupied al-Hasa province in today’s Saudi Arabia in 1871, the sheikh invited the Ottomans to establish a garrison in Doha – to balance Britain’s influence – and thereby maintain some independence. The Turks evacuated the country in 1913 after being defeated in al-Hasa. Britain recognized Sheikh Abdullah ibn al-Thani as Qatar’s ruler and signed a friendship and protection treaty with him in 1916. The treaty was renewed and expanded in 1935, giving Qatar full British protection against the British gaining control of its foreign policy. Qatar thus gained British status protectorate.
After internal strife in the al-Thani family, sheikh Abdullah ibn al-Thani was followed by sheikh Ali ibn Abdullah al-Thani in 1949, following British intervention. He abdicated in 1960 in favor of Sheikh Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Abdullah al-Thani, after the British again intervened. The United Kingdom announced in 1968 that the country would withdraw from the Gulf, and Qatar had drafted a temporary constitution that came into force in 1970 – as the basis for its independence. After first joining forces with other Gulf states, Qatar chose independence rather than joining the United Arab Emirates.
In 1971, the Anglo-Qatari Agreement of 1916 was abolished, and Qatar became an independent monarchy. Relations with the UK were continued through a friendship agreement. On September 1, 1972, the emir was deposed in a coup by his prime minister, Khalifa ibn Hamad al-Thani. This suffered the same fate in 1995, when he was deposed by his son the crown prince, Sheikh Hamad ibn Khalifa al-Thani. The rationale for the coup was to modernize the Qatari society. In 1996, a failed coup attempt was made against the emir to reinstate the deposed ruler.
Even before independence, oil was produced in Qatar: After an extraction agreement was signed with the Iraq Petroleum Company (later Qatar Petroleum Company) in 1935, the first discoveries were made in 1939; Commercial recovery started only in 1949, after World War II was over. The gradually increasing revenues for oil exports laid the foundations for the modernization of Qatar, but were also a source of the internal strife in the royal family.
Under Sheikh Hamad, in the 1990s, a process of modernization was initiated both in the social and political spheres, where Qatar developed into a relatively liberal country in a regional context. Political reforms included universal suffrage – also for women, and the first (local) elections were held in 1999. In the second election (2003), a woman was elected for the first time, and women were appointed to leading public positions. The Emir’s sister, Hassa bint Khalifa al-Thani, became the first ministerial woman in 2002; then Qatar appointed the first female government member in any Gulf state in 2003.
A new labor law from 2004 allows the establishment of trade unions and introduced strike rights. Equally, Qatar has been criticized for violating international labor conventions related to the treatment of guest workers in the country. Although political parties were not allowed, political opinions were allowed from the 1990s, and the television channel Al-Jazeera was established in 1996, with considerable widespread and influence in the Arab world. Representatives of Islamist groups from several countries were arrested in Qatar.