History of Qatar

Qatar is a young nation having only become an independent state in 1971. Before the nation was granted independence by the British Empire it had been a land that had been inhabited by humans for almost 50,000 years when small groups of inhabitants built encampments along the coast.

The first known civilisation to settle the region was the Dilmun, a peaceful trading people that had its capital located on what is now Bahrain. Qatar itself was part of a complex and wealthy trading network. In the Bronze age Qatar became one of the richest places on the Persian Gulf thanks to its location as a key location for trade and commerce.   Traders from Babylon and Mesopotamia crossed the Persian Gulf on their way to India and forged strong ties with Qatar.

During the Roman period Qatar carried on being a major trade route linking the Western world with the East and became wealthy by exporting pearls and dried fish. The Persian Gulf region rose in importance during the time of the Sassanid Persian Empire with the gulf linking trade between the Roman and Eastern empires.  Qatar played a pre-eminent role in that commercial activity contributing at least two of these commodities to the Sassanid trade- purple dye and precious pearls.

In the 7th century AD Islam came to Qatar. The ruler of Qatar at that time, the ruler of Bahrain embraced the Prophet Muhammad’s invitation to accept Islam making the region Muslim and part of the rapidly expanding Muslim territory’s. By 1200 the region had grown more prosperous as the Abbasids and Umayyad caliphates came to regard Qatari horses and camels as valuable commodity’s and demand for Qatari pearl reached as far as China.

In the 16th century the Portuguese arrived on the peninsula and established a hold over the Persian Gulf. They remained in the region until 1522 when they were driven out by the Ottoman Navy.

In 1783 Bahrain invaded Qatar but the Qataris were resentful of their new Bahraini masters. In 1825 the house of Thani was formed with Sheik Thani bin Mohammed as the first leader. After a period of resistance and rebellion Bahrain launched an effort to crush the rebels resulting in the Qatari-Bahrain war of 186-1868. The cities of Doha and Al Wakrah were sacked prompting the British to intervene as the Bahrainian’s aggressive action broke a treaty between Britain and Bahrain. The British piled pressure onto Bahrain which led to founding of the state of Qatar in 1878. The Al Thani became the new states leaders forming a dynasty that still rules today.

Qatar submitted to Ottoman rule in 1871 but only won their status as an autonomous separate country after Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani defeated the Ottomans in battle. In 1916 Qatar became a British protectorate after the Ottoman Empire collapsed after World War One. In the 1930’s oil was discovered but exploitation was postponed by the onset of World War Two.

After the war Britain was weakened and granted Qatar independence in 1971. With the discovery of oil and the wealth that comes from black gold the country rapidly grew rich. In 1991 Qatar played a part in the Gulf War. 1995 saw the current ruler Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has ruled Qatar and has overseen the nations modernisation and its rise to becoming one of the, if not the richest nation on Earth.

In 2011 Qatar joined NATO operations in Libya and is thought to have aided the rebels in Syria. Qatar is also attempting to host peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. In 2022 the country will host the FIFA World Cup.