Make your own free website on Tripod.com

The Roots of Kuwait

The Gulf War

From the discovery of oil to the GCC

Chronology of Kuwait History

Rulers of the Al-Sabah Dynasty


The Roots of Kuwait

Back to top Kuwait's emergence as an independent political entity dates back more than 380 years ago, to 1613. This has been established by new research initiated by the Kuwaiti government after the liberation of the country from the Iraqi invasion. The President of the Centre for Kuwaiti Research and Studies, Dr Abdallah Al-Ghoneim, said the new research proves that Kuwait existed as early as 1613 and not 1752 as formerly believed.

Dr Al-Ghoneim said this was substantiated by other evidence also. In a letter found in the British archives, addressed by Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah in 1913 to the British Political Resident, the former says "Kuwait is a land of the poor in which our grandfather Al-Sabah dwelled in 1613." Evidence also includes a letter sent by Oman's Imam Naser Bin Murshed in the 1730s to the Kuwaiti government, appealing for help against the Portuguese. Kuwait had then sent two ships loaded with weapons and ammunition.

In the 17th century, the Bani Khalid were the overlords of eastern Arabia and their domain stretched from Kuwait to Qatar. In about 1672 Barrak Bin Ghuraif, the Amir of the Bani Khalid, built his kout (a small house in the shape of a fortress situated near water) in Qurain, a small fishing community. This may have been in the area in Kuwait City known today as Wattiya.

The Utub, a federation of Arab families, were driven out of Al-Aflaj in central Arabia by the drought in the 17th century. In Qatar they learned sea-faring and then scattered into various Arabian Gulf ports before coming to Kuwait in the early 18th century. They settled here under the suzerainty of the Bani Khalid.

Family disputes within the ruling Bani Khalid in 1722 gave the Utub in Kuwait a chance to practice some independence. After 1752 further internal disputes among the Bani Khalid and the rise of the Wahhabis, their bitter enemies in central Arabia, gave the Utub of Kuwait de facto independence. In about 1756 they elected Sabah Bin Jaber as the Amir of Kuwait to administer justice and the affairs of the town.

As the regional influence of the Bani Khalid waned, Kuwait’s lack of protection made the rise of a strong local power necessary. The Utub had changed from nomads to settlers since their move from Al-Aflaj and the first Al-Sabah was chosen by the other families as their leader.

H.H. the Amir’s fifth son, HH Sheikh Abdullah-Al-Sabah was selected to succeed his father. Under his stable rule, Kuwait transformed into a prosperous and influential independency. In the latter part of the 18th and early 19th centuries Kuwait became a major port of call on several international trading routes.

Pearls were Kuwait’s only natural resource and each year hundreds of pearling ships such as sambuks made for the lucrative pearl banks to return at the end of summer. Shipbuilding and using imported materials, became an important industry. In winter, large trading dhows set out for India to return with merchandise (and mail) which was loaded onto desert caravans bound for the Mediterranean. Caravans from southern and eastern Arabia also passed through Kuwait on their way to Syria. Kuwait’s markets were crowded with Bedouins selling their products and services or buying imports for resale in the interior.

H.H. the Amir, Sheikh Jaber I Al-Sabah (1812-1859) ruled in consultation with the merchants of Kuwait, and managed to maintain good relations with all the major powers of the day. However, as Kuwait prospered throughout the 19th century its independence came under threat from regional and European powers.

To counter growing Turkish ambitions, H.H. the Amir, Sheikh Mubarak (1896-1915) signed treaties with the global powers of that time. The country prospered greatly under H.H. Sheikh Mubarak’s rule. Hundreds arrived to settle in Kuwait, attracted by its orderly administration and increasing commercial activity.

Unfortunately, trade declined sharply in Kuwait from the 1920s onwards due to the worldwide recession, Kuwait’s reduced importance as a major link in 20th century international trade routes, and because of hostilities from the Ikhwan, tribesmen from the interior of Arabia, who were only finally defeated in 1930. Kuwait’s pearling industry, which once boasted 800 pearling ships, almost disappeared with the introduction of Japanese cultured pearls and the worldwide fall in demand for luxury goods following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. However, in the 1950s and 1960s, Kuwait underwent a transition from a small Amirate to an internationally influential modern state because of the oil boom.


From discovery of the oil to the GCC

Back to top Oil was discovered in Kuwait in 1938 by the Kuwait Oil Company but because of World War II, it was not exported until 1946, after which time Kuwait's economy flourished. Kuwait was a British protectorate until 1961 when it became independent under Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah. However, when Iraq claimed the emirate in the early 1960s, it once again received British protection. In July 1961 Kuwait joined the Arab League and in 1963 became a member of the United Nations. Also in 1963 the first legislative elections were held and Sheikh Abdullah, the Emir of Kuwait, inaugurated the first National Assembly on 29 February 1963. Kuwait played a major role in establishing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) consisting of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman in 1981. The Council held a firm position during Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 and its seven-month occupation of the Emirate.


Rulers of the Al-Sabah Dynasty

Back to top
1. Sheikh Sabah I Bin Jaber: 1756-1762
2. Sheikh Abdullah I: 1762-1812
3. Sheikh Jaber I: 1812-1859
4. Sheikh Sabah II: 1859-1866
5. Sheikh Abdullah II: 1866-1892
6. Sheikh Mohammad I: 1892-1896
7. Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah: 1896-1915
8. Sheikh Jaber II: 1915-1917
9. Sheikh Salem Al-Mubarak: 1917-1921
10. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah: 1921-1950
11. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah: 1950-1965
12. Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah: 1965-1977
13. Sheikh Jaber Al-AhmadAl-Jaber Al-Sabah: The present ruler, who ascended the throne in January 1978. .


The Gulf War

Back to top After a series of threats, failed attempts of blackmail and coersion, Iraq invaded its much smaller neighbour on 2 August 1990. The invasion received immediate international condemnation and on 16 January 1991, after the failure of international diplomatic efforts and sanctions, a 28-member military coalition under U.S. command launched the Gulf War. Kuwait was liberated on 26 February 1991 and on 14 March, the emir returned to his country. The Advisory National Council, created in 1990 before the invasion, was reconvened on 9 July. Later in 1991, Kuwait and the United States signed a ten-year security agreement. Kuwait also sought similar security arrangements with France, United Kingdom, Russia and China.


Chronology of Kuwait History

Back to top Civilization is traced back to 3rd millennium BC.
3rd century BC: Greeks colonize the island Faylaka.
1672 AD: The traditionally counted foundation of Kuwait, when the city of Kuwait was established by Barrak bin Gorair the Amir of Bany Khalid, and they were immigrants from the Arabian peninsula.
1752: The Kuwaiti people choose a member of The Sabah family "Sabah bin Jaber" to be there shaykh and the leader. The shaykhdom is nominally under Ottoman rule, but has de facto independence.
1765:The Danish traveler C. Neibuhr depicted Kuwait as Grane on his map and in the narrative about his voyage.
1783:Bany Ka'ab Tripe attacked Kuwait from the sea "Al-Riga Al-Bahriah Battle". The Kuwaitis won the Battle.
1871: The Tab'ah incident, when many of Kuwaitis diving ships sunk because of a big sea storm.
1899: When the Ottoman empire tries to take control over the shaykhdom with German aid, the shaykh asks for British aid, which he gets.
1914: Great Britain recognize the independence of Kuwait. Wahhabis of Najd in Saudi Arabia attacked Kuwait after this.
1921: Peace between Kuwait and the Wahhabis is restored, after the British gave aid to Kuwait.
1922: Neutral zone established between Kuwait and Arabia.
1923: Borders between Iraq and Kuwait are drawn up.
1927: The first Airport in Kuwait was established.
1934 December 7: The Year of Destruction "Senat Al-Hadamah", Kuwait was flooded by rain which resulted in the destruction of many residential buildings and more.
1938: Petroleum discovered.
1946: Gulf Oil Corporation, British and US owned, starts extraction of oil.
1961 June 19: End of British protection, the shaykh changes his title to emir. Kuwait enters the Arab League.
1962 January 20: Assembly is set down to draft a constitution.
November 11: The constitution is proclaimed. The emir has the executive power, organized with a group of ministers.
1963 January 23: A National Assembly is elected.
May 14: Kuwait becomes a member of the United Nations.
1965: Saudi Arabia and Kuwait agree upon borders, and the neutral zone is dropped. The two countries also agree upon co-operation in exploitation of oil reserves in the border area.
1973: Rise in oil prices has tremendous effects on Kuwaiti economics.
1976 August: The emir dissolves the national assembly.
1977: H.H. Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad al-Sabah becomes the new emir.
1981 February: Iran bombs Kuwaiti oil installations as a revenge to Kuwaiti aid to Iraq in their warfare against Iran. Shi'as living inside Kuwait participated in many destabilizing actions.
1985: Expulsions of foreign workers, mainly Shi'as, after political and violent actions from Shi'a groups. Most serious was an attempt on the emir's life.
1987: Military help is sent from the USA and the Soviet Union to protect Kuwait from Iranian attacks.
1989: Public protests against the suppression of the national assembly.
1990 June 10: Elections for a new assembly. Boycotted by the opposition that consider it inferior to what the constitution calls for.
August 2: Iraqi invasion, with 100,000 troops. Control of the country is quickly established. A period of harsh suppression starts, looting of the country. Many from the large community of Palestinian foreign workers help the Iraqis. Emir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and part of the Kuwaiti Government took refuge in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
August 8: Kuwait is annexed by Iraq. Few recognize this (Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, and Sudan is one of the few). The Arab League condemns it, as well as the UN.
1991 January 16: After months of warnings, a coalition of 28 countries attacks Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, and has fast victories.
February 26: Kuwait is liberated. Kuwait's infrastructure is severely damaged by the Iraqi Invaders, food and supplies scarce. Hundreds of oil-wells have been put to fire, and it takes many months before the last fire is put out.
March 14: The emir returns, martial law is imposed until June 26.
Kuwait and the United States of America signs a 10 year security pact.
1992: Most oil-well fires have now been put out, and most Palestinians have been forced to leave the country in retaliation of their support of the occupying Iraqis.
October 5: Elections for a new National Assembly. Opposition groups working for democracy, wins 31 of 50 seats.
1993 January: Iraq is forced by US military attacks to recognize the new borders.
1994 October: Assembling of Iraqi troops along the Kuwaiti-Iraq borders, but the feared attack never materializes, and the troops are withdrawn.