In 1760, some Bedouin tribes moved from their ancestral lands to what is now Qatar. One of these Bedouin tribes was the family of Al Thani, who founded the village of al-Bid, from which the current capital of Qatar – Doha – developed. The head of the family, Sheikh Muhammad Al Thani, established himself over time as the strongest force on the peninsula and thus became the founder of today’s still reigning royal family of Qatar, the Al Thani dynasty.

Rise of the Al Thani Family

In the following century conflicts with the clan of the Al Khalifa arose, who came from the present-day Kuwait and wanted to settle in the territory of Qatar. In 1783, the Al Khalifas conquered the territory of Bahrain, in which they then settled permanently. The conflict over the control of Qatar between the families Al Thani and Al Khalifa escalated in 1867, so the United Kingdom intervened and prevailed peace. Later Qatar and Bahrain signed a treaty of friendship. On December the 18th 1878, today the National Day of Qatar, a treaty between the UK and Qatar was signed, whereby the Al Thani family established itself as the strongest force on the peninsula.
The Ottomans attempted to gain a foothold in the second half of the 19th century in Qatar and conquered the country in parts, therefore Qasim Al Thani sought help from the Wahhabis, a strictly orthodox sect of Islam, but the United Kingdom intervened for the second time to prevent Wahhabi and Ottoman influence on Qatar. In 1915, the last Ottoman troops left the country. In the coming years, the political and economic influence of the United Kingdom grew steadily in Qatar.

The First Oil

In 1939 the first oil was discovered in Qatar. The degradation of this natural resource formed the basis for a new economic orientation of the country, on which the rapid modernization and conversion of the entire country and the state is based today. In 1971 the North Field was discovered, the largest known natural gas field in the world.When Britain announced the complete withdrawal of its troops from the territories east of Suez in 1971, Qatar declared its independence and thereby refused to connect to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The following year Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani became Emir. He engaged himself in further developing the economy which resulted in more companies building up branches in Qatar and the entire oil and gas industry being nationalized in 1977. Qatar, Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait founded the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981. In 1995 Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani was replaced by his son Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani who reigned the country until 2013, when his son Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani became the 8th Emir of Qatar.


Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former Emir of Qatar (left); His Royal Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir since 2013 (right)