Gulf Chronological Timeline


See BBC Timeline: Bahrain for more information and events. This is another helpful timeline.

1913 – The British and the Ottoman government grant Bahrain “independence” but the country remains under British control.

1931- Oil is found at Bab al-Dukhan by Bapco and Socal. Production begins within the year.

1961- Sheikh Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa succeeds his father as emir of Bahrain.

1971- A 12 person Council of State is established in Bahrain, headed by the Emir’s brother President Khalifa (January).

1971- Bahrain receives independence from Britain (December 16).

1975- Emir Khalifa dissolves the National Assembly, elected in 1973, upon allegations that they were obstructing the government.

1981- Bahrain joins Gulf Cooperation Council.

1981- Members of Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, an alleged Iranian proxy group, are arrested in a coup attempted (December).

1986- Bahrain spars with Qatar over Qatari occupation of an island, but the dispute is resolved with Saudi influence.

1986- King Fahd causeway connects Saudi Arabia with Bahrain (November)

1971- The United States begins to rent out space from military facilities from Bahrain (December 23).

1991- Qatar takes claims to several islands to the ICJ, but Bahrain refutes Qatari claims to these islands.

1991- Bahrain signs a defense agreement with the United States for military technology in exchange for United States use of ports and land for bases.

1994- Top Shi’a sheikh is arrested and protests follow. Shi’a cleric was an outspoken critic of the ruling family and called for the National Assembly to be reestablished.

1995- The Emir’s cabinet is reformed to have five Shiite ministers.

1996- A coup attempt by Hizbullah Bahrain is uncovered by the government. Bahrain recalls its ambassador to Iran.

1999- Sheikh Hamad succeed’s his father, Sheikh Isa, upon his death. Sheikh Hamad’s son, Salman, becomes Crown Prince (March)

2000- Qatar and Bahrain agree to settle disputes.

2002- Bahrain becomes a constitutional monarchy in which women can run for office after a referendum in 2001.

2002- Local elections are held in May and parliamentary elections in October. Women vote and run, but do not win a seat. Turn out is allegedly over 50%.

2004- The U.S. and Bahrain sign a free-trade agreement to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia. It is signed by President George Bush in 2006.

2006- Shia opposition takes the Prime Minster position and 40% of the vote in elections.

2010- Shia opposition leaders are accused of planning “sabotage” and are arrested before elections. Shia bloc makes tiny gains in October elections.

2011- Protests begin in February against the Khalifa monarchy. Most are gathered in Manama, around Pearl Roundabout, and violence ensues. The government dismantles the monument at Pearl Roundabout in an attempt to quell the protests (April). Saudi Arabia sends troops and weaponry to support the Khalifa regime, fearing that protests could spread across King Fahd’s causeway and into Saudi eastern oil regions (March). The Bahraini government bans two Shia opposition parties (April).


See BBC Timeline: Qatar for more dates and events.

1867- After a conflict with Bahrain, in which Doha is ravaged, the British recognize Qatar as a separate entity from Bahrain.

1916- British get Qatar to agree to control of their external affairs in exchange for protection.

1939- Oil discovered in the midst of World War II.

1950- Qatar begins the process of modernization with increased oil revenue.

1971- Independence from Britain.

1972- Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani is named ruler after infighting within the royal family.

1990- Qatar allows “foreign forces” on its soil during first Gulf War.

1995- Sheikh Hamad disposes of his father and becomes emir.

1996- Sheikh Hamad funds and launches Al-Jazeera Independent News.

1999- First municipal elections held.

2003- As Qatar becomes a major base of operations for the United States’ war in Iraq, voters approve a constitution that will have a 45 person parliament. 15 of these seats will be selected by the emir, the rest by popular vote.

2005- Constitutional reforms come into effect. Qatar teams up with the US to build the world’s largest “liquified natural gas plant”.

2007- Dubai and Qatar are largest share holders on LSE.

2008- Christians are freely permitted to worship at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Qatar for the first time. A framework is built for natural-gas OPED style agreement between Iran, Russia, and Qatar. Saudi Arabia and Qatar normalize relations and settle all border disputes.

2009- Qatar cuts trade ties with Israel over war in Gaza; Israel now has no trade ties with any Gulf states.

2011- Qatar stands out as leading Arab country in NATO-led no-fly zone over Libya that helps Qaddafi’s ouster. Qatar demands Qaddafi leave and arms rebel forces.

Saudi Arabia

1891 – The Al Saud family are exiled to Kuwait by the Rashidi family.

1902 – Abd-al-Aziz Bin-Abd-al-Rahman Bin-Faysal Bin-Turki Bin-Abdallah Bin-Muhammad Al Saud (often known as Ibn Saud) takes control of Riyadh bringing the Al Saud family back into Saudi Arabia.

1932 (September) – The areas controlled by Abd-al-Aziz are unified under the name Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Abd-al-Aziz is proclaimed King.

1933 – King Abd-al-Aziz’s eldest son, Saud, is named Crown Prince.

1938 – Oil is discovered and production begins under the US-controlled Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company).

1953 (November) – King Abd-al-Aziz dies and is succeeded by the Crown Prince Saud Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud. The new King’s brother, Faysal is named Crown Prince.

1960 – Saudi Arabia is a founding member of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).

1964 (November)- King Saud is deposed by his brother, the Crown Prince, Faysal Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud.

1972 – Saudi Arabia gains control of a proportion (20%) of Aramco, decreasing US control over Saudi oil.

1973 – Saudi Arabia leads an oil boycott against the Western countries that supported Israel in the October War against Egypt and Syria. Oil prices quadruple.

1975 (March) – King Faysal is assassinated by his nephew, Faysal Bin-Musaid Bin-Abd-al-Aziz; he is succeeded by his brother, Khalid Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud.

1979 – Saudi Arabia severs diplomatic relations with Egypt after it makes peace with Israel.

1979 – Extremists seize the Grand Mosque of Mecca; the government regains control after 10 days and those captured are executed.

1980 – Saudi Arabia takes full control of Aramco from the US.

1981 (May) – Saudi Arabia is a founder member of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).

1982 (June) – King Khalid dies of a heart attack and is succeeded by his brother, Crown Prince Fahd Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud.

1987 – Saudi Arabia resumes diplomatic relations with Egypt.

1990 – Saudi Arabia condemns Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and asks the US to intervene; it allows foreign troops, the Kuwaiti government and many of its citizens to stay in Saudi Arabia but expels citizens of Yemen and Jordan because of their governments’ support of Iraq.

1991 – Saudi Arabia is involved in both air attacks on Iraq and in the land force that went on to liberate Kuwait.

1992 (March) – King Fahd announces the “Basic System of Government” emphasizing the duties and responsiblities of a ruler.

1993 (September) – King Fahd decrees the division of Saudi Arabia into thirteen administrative divisions.

1993 (December) – The Consultative Council is inaugurated. It is composed of a chairman and 60 members chosen by the king.

1994 – Islamic dissident Osama Bin Laden is stripped of his Saudi nationality.

1995 (November) – King Fahd has a stroke. Crown Prince Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud takes on the day-to-day running of the country.

1996 (February) – King Fahd resumes control of state affairs.

1996 (June) – A bomb explodes at the US military complex near Dhahran killing 19 and wounding over 300.

1999 (October) – Twenty Saudi women attend a session of the Consultative Council for the first time.

2000 (September) – Amnesty International describes Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women, particularly foreign domestic workers, as “untenable” by any legal or moral standard.

2001 (11 September) – 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in attacks on New York and Washington are Saudi nationals.

2001 (December) – King Fahd calls for the eradication of terrorism, saying it is prohibited by Islam; government takes the unprecedented step of issuing ID cards to women.

2002 (May) – Revised criminal code includes ban on torture and right of suspects to legal representation, but rights campaigners say violations continue.

2002 (November) – Saudi foreign minister says his country will not allow the US to use its facilities to attack Iraq, even in a UN-sanctioned strike.

2003 (April) – US says it will pull out almost all its troops from Saudi Arabia, ending a military presence dating back to the 1991 Gulf war. Both countries stress that they will remain allies.

2003 (May) – Suicide bombers kill 35 people at housing compounds for Westerners in Riyadh hours before US Secretary of State Colin Powell flies in for planned visit.

2003 (September) – More than 300 Saudi intellectuals – women as well as men – sign petition calling for far-reaching political reforms.

2003 (October) – Police break up unprecedented rally in centre of Riyadh calling for political reform. More than 270 people are arrested.

2003 (November) – Suicide attack by suspected al-Qaeda militants on residential compound in Riyadh leaves 17 dead and scores injured.

2004 (February) – Stampede at Hajj pilgrimage leaves 251 dead.

2004 (April) – Four police officers and a security officer killed in attacks near Riyadh. Car bomb at security forces’ HQ in Riyadh kills four, wounds 148. Group linked to al-Qaeda claims responsibility.

2004 (May) – Attack at petrochemical site in Yanbu kills five foreigners. Attack and hostage-taking at oil company compound in Khobar; 22 people are killed.

2004 (June) – Three gun attacks in Riyadh within a week leave two Americans and a BBC cameraman dead. The same week, a US engineer is abducted and beheaded, his filmed death causing revulsion in America.
Security forces kill local al-Qaeda leader Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin shortly afterwards, but an amnesty for militants which follows has only limited effect despite a fall in militant activity.

2004 (December) – Attack on US consulate in Jeddah; five staff and four attackers are killed.
Two car bombs explode in central Riyadh; security forces kill seven suspects in a subsequent raid.

2005 (February-April) – First-ever nationwide municipal elections. Women do not take part in the poll.

2005 (1 August) – Saudi royal court announces death of King Fahd. He is succeeded by the former crown prince, Abdullah.

2005 (November) – World Trade Organization grants membership to Saudi Arabia after 12 years of talks.

2006 (January) – 363 Hajj pilgrims are killed in a crush during a stone-throwing ritual in Mecca. In a separate incident, more than 70 pilgrims are killed when a hostel in the city collapses.

2006 (October) – Saudi Arabia moves to formalize the royal succession in an apparent bid to prevent infighting among the next generation of princes.

2007 (April) – Police say they have arrested 172 terror suspects, some of whom trained as pilots for suicide missions.

2008 (December) – Saudi Arabia and Qatar agree final delineation of border.

2009 (February) – Interpol issues security alerts for 85 men suspected of plotting attacks in Saudi Arabia, in its largest group alert. All but two are Saudis.
King Abdullah sacks head of religious police, most senior judge and central bank head in rare government reshuffle. Also appoints country’s first woman minister.

2009 (April) – Saudi Arabia said it had arrested 11 al-Qaeda militants who were allegedly planning attacks on police installations, armed robberies and kidnappings.

2009 (June) – President Barack Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia at the start of a Middle East tour aimed at increasing US engagement with the Islamic world.

2009 (July) – A court issued verdicts in the first explicit terrorism trial for al-Qaeda militants in the country. Officials said 330 had been on trial, but did not specify how many had been found guilty. One was sentenced to death.

2009 (November) – Saudi troops move to enforce buffer zone in northern Yemen after becoming involved in border clashes with Yemeni rebels.

2010 (October) – US officials confirm plan to sell $60 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia – the most lucrative single arms deal in US history.

2010 (November) – Officials announce arrest of 149 militants over past eight months, most of them allegedly belonging to al-Qaeda.
King Abdullah undergoes back surgery in the US.

2010 (December) – Diplomatic cables revealed by whistle-blowing website Wikileaks suggest US concern that Saudi Arabia is the ”most significant” source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.

2011 (February) – King Abdullah announces increased welfare spending, as unrest continues across Arab world.

2011 (March) – Public protests banned, after small demonstrations in mainly Shia areas of the east. King Abdullah warns that threats to the nation’s security and stability will not be tolerated.
Small protests – mainly calling for the release of political prisoners – continue to be held in Riyadh and elsewhere in defiance of the ban.

2011 (September) – Women granted right to vote.


BBC provides a timeline of the past 200 years for Yemen. Below will focus primarily on the the lead up to the unification of North and South Yemen and the history of the Republic of Yemen (1990- present).

1918- North Yemen gains independence upon the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Imam Yahya assumes control of the country. South Yemen and the Port of Aden remain under British control.

1962 Imam Ahmad, son of Imam Yahya dies prompting a battle for control of North Yemen. This leads to the end of the Imamate and formation of the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR). A civil war ensues, pitting the royalists against the nationalists with the former backed by the Saudi’s and the latter by the Egyptians.

1967- The British withdraw from Aden following a protracted insurgency, leaving South Yemen an independent state.

1970- A marxist wing of the National Liberation Front, one of the main nationalist groups that participated in the insurgency against the British, consolidates power. They form the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) on December 1, 1970. All political parties are folded into the NLF, which is renamed the Yemeni Socialist Party.

1972- The Cairo Agreement is drafted, marking the first attempt at unification by the two states. The Agreement lays out a framework for unification but is voted down by the North Yemeni Consultative Committee.

1978- Ali Abdullah Saleh becomes President of YAR following the assassination of then Head of State, Ahmed bin Hussein al- Ghashmi.

1979- Despite heightened tensions due to a border war and continued PDRY support for the Sunni Shafi’is led National Democratic Front rebellion against the YAR, talks regarding unification resume. This led to the Kuwaiti Agreement, which built upon the framework put forth in 1972 and called for a draft constitution for a unified Yemen.

1986- Political upheaval is sparked by the return of former PDRY President Abdul Fattah Ismail to southern Yemen. He takes up a post in the Politburo, prompting President Ali Nasser Muhammad to plot against the man he ousted 6 years prior.This political rivalry culminates in heavy fighting between supporters of the two leaders. Ismail is killed in the initial ambush ordered by President Muhammad seemingly solidifying his hold on power. But due to a series of errors in judgement by the President, he is eventually ousted by the opposition and flees to North Yemen. Ali Salim Al- Beidh takes control of South Yemen.

1988- YAR and PDRY agree to demilitarize a 2,200 square kilometer Joint Investment Area along the common border in the Marib/ Shabwa area in preparation for oil exploration & development. The Yemen Company for Investment in Oil and Mineral Resources forms as the entity in charge of developing the joint venture. This is a significant step in the promotion of economic cooperation between the North and South. Within the discussions of this venture came a relaxation of border controls, which had a profound effect for ordinary Yemeni’s and created momentum for the unification process. Over the next two years, the PDRY lost an estimated 250,000 citizens or 10% of its population to the North as a result relaxed controls. In addition, YAR & PDRY agree on a major project to link their separate power grids between Ta’izz and Aden.

1990- YAR and PDRY unify and become the Republic of Yemen on May 22, 1990. The unification process saw two contrasting political systems with the YAR on far stronger footing during the bargaining process. PDRY was in dire economic circumstances and had a population one- fifth the size of its counterpart in the North. Saleh became the Head of State while Al- Baidh became Vice President. Additionally, the political and economic systems followed the northern model. In order to preserve the General People’s Congress Party (GPC) and the Yemeni Socialist Party YSP, the main parties of the North and South respectively, a principle of political pluralism was adopted. One major misstep that arose from this arrangement was that both parties maintained their armies as separate entities. The 30-month transition period began in order to hash out many of the issues that were side-stepped during the unification process in preparation for the first election cycle.

1990- Invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein resulted in an influx of Yemeni’s forced to return home from neighboring Gulf States due to Yemen’s support for Iraq during the First Gulf War. Remittances were a major component of YAR’s economic well-being prior to unification and remained that way after. Remittances plummeted during this period as a result of Yemeni expulsions from GCC states placing significant pressure on the economy.

1993- Elections are held with the Saleh’s GPC party taking 122 seats, the northern Islamic tribal alliance, Al-Islah winning 62 seats and Al-Baidh’s YSP coming in third with 54 of a total 301 seats. This was a dismal showing for the southern contingent. The dominance of the northern political apparatus was all but inevitable considering the North was home to 80% of the Yemeni population prior to unification. Al-Islah’s leader Sheikh Abdullah al- Ahmar of the Hashid Tribal Confederation becomes Speaker of the Parliament. Al- Baidh eventually leaves Sana’a for Aden in protest of what he perceived to be a slow  and uneven integration and refuses to return and take the oath of office as Vice President.

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