In medieval times, Qatar was more often than not independent and a participant in the great Persian Gulf–Indian Ocean commerce. Many races and ideas were introduced into the peninsula from the sailors of Sindh, East Africa, South and Southeast Asia, as well as the Malay archipelago. Today, the traces of these early interactions with the oceanic world of the Indian Ocean survive in the small minorities of races, peoples, languages and religions, such as the presence of Africans and Shihus.
Although the peninsular land mass that makes up Qatar has sustained humans for thousands of years, for the bulk of its history, the arid climate fostered only short-term settlements by nomadic tribes. The Abbasid era (750-1258) saw the rise of several settlements, including Murwab. The Portuguese ruled from 1517 to 1538, when they lost to the Ottomans. Until 1913, it was a part of the Ottoman Empire.
The British initially sought out Qatar and the Persian Gulf as an intermediary vantage point en route to their colonial interests in India; although, the discovery of petroleum and other hydrocarbons in the early 20th century would re-invigorate their interest. During the 19th century, the time of Britain’s formative ventures into the region, the Al Khalifa clan reigned over the northern Qatari peninsula from the nearby island of Bahrain to the west.
Although Qatar had the legal status of a dependency, resentment festered against the Bahraini Al Khalifas along the eastern seaboard of the Qatari peninsula. In 1867, the Al Khalifas launched a successful effort to quash the Qatari rebels, sending a massive naval force to Al Wakrah. However, the Bahraini aggression was in violation of the 1820 Anglo-Bahraini Treaty. The diplomatic response of the British to this violation set into motion the political forces that would eventuate in the founding of the state of Qatar on December 18, 1878 (for this reason, the date of December 18 is celebrated each year as the National Day of Qatar). In addition to censuring Bahrain for its breach of agreement, the British Protectorate (per Colonel Lewis Pelly) asked to negotiate with a representative from Qatar.
The request carried with it a tacit recognition of Qatar’s status as distinct from Bahrain. The Qataris chose as their negotiator the respected entrepreneur and long-time resident of Doha, Muhammed bin Thani. The Al Thanis had taken relatively little part in Persian Gulf politics, but the diplomatic foray ensured their participation in the movement towards independence and their hegemony as the future ruling family, a dynasty that continues to this day. The results of the negotiations left Qatar with a new-found sense of political selfhood, although it did not gain official standing as a British protectorate until 1916.
The Al Thani name came from Thani bin Muhammed. He came from a province called Najd in Saudia Arabia. In the year 1825 the Ottomon administration decided to put Thani as Hakim by the Ottomon Empire as they wanted him to represent them. After his death his son Muhammed bin Thani took his place. Muhammed was favoured by all the tribes living in Qatar. In year 1856 the five biggest tribes in Qatar decided all to have a meeting with Muhammed asking him to ask the Ottoman administration for independence from the Empire. In the year 1860 Muhammed had his First son Jassim bin Muhammed bin Thani. Jassim was born in Bahrain in al muharraq town. Jassim came to Qatar that same year and was raised within the Qatari tribes. The heads of the five tribes all liked Jassim and his strong personality. On year 1878 Sheikh Muhammed died and Shiekh Jassim is the new Hakim. The five tribes were called Alkuwari, Alnuami, Alattya, Almuhanidi and Alboainain. They all agreed after having a secret meeting between them and Jassim. On the day of the 18 of December 1878 the Ottomons were defeated and an independence was declared.
The Al Thani (Arabic: آل ثاني) family is the royal family of Qatar. They belong to Banu Tamim. The Al Thani family has been ruling Qatar since 1825.
List of Hakims and Emirs:
• Sheikh Thani bin Muhammed, Hakim of Qatar (1825-1850)
• Sheikh Muhammad bin Thani, Hakim of Qatar (1850-1878)
• Sheikh Jassim bin Muhammed Al Thani, Emir of Qatar (1878-1913)
• Sheikh Abdullah bin Jasssim Al Thani, Emir of Qatar (1914-1945)
• Shiekh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani, Emir of Qatar (1945-1946)
• Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Thani, Emir of Qatar (1949-1960)
• Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani, Emir of Qatar (1960- 1972)
• Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir (1972-1995)
• Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, present Emir of Qatar Since 1995.