1939 – Oil discovered in Qatar

  • Due to World War II instability, oil exploitation is delayed, but in time oil comes to replace the pearling/fishing trade off the coast of Qatar.
  • Oil quickly becomes the country’s main source of revenue.
  • Qatar is formally under British protection – mainly from neighboring Bahrain who made historical claims to the small coastal entity, and the Ottoman Empire, which aspired to control the entire Arabian peninsula.

1950’s – Oil revenue funds Qatar’s modernization

  • Infrastructure and institutions are established and expanded.
  • Qatar’s population is around 40,000.

1968 – Britain announces its plans to withdraw from the Gulf

  • Qatar negotiates with Great Britain and neighboring Bahrain and present-day United Arab Emirates about forming an independent federation.

1971 – Qatar gains full independence on September 3

  • Ahmed Bin Ali declared Emir of independent Qatar – though he had been the de facto ruler for some time.
  • Sharia law is declared as the basis of the Qatari penal code.

1972 – Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani takes power

  • Many Qataris were convinced of the need for regime change when the sitting Emir Ahmed Bin Ali announced the country’s independence from his Swiss villa, rather than from his palace in Doha.
  • While on a hunting trip in Iran, his prime minister Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani wrested power from Bin Ali, with the tacit support of Britain and the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia.

1990 – Invasion of Kuwait

  • When Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invades Kuwait, Qatar agrees to allow international troops on its soil.
  • Qatari troops later took part in the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi forces.

1995 – Hamad Bin Khalifa takes power

  • Son of the first Emir Khalif Bin Hamad Al Thani, deputy Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani takes power from his father in a bloodless coup.
  • An unsuccessful counter-coup was staged the year after.
  • The Emir and his father have since reconciled, though some supporters of the counter-coup remain in prison.

1996 – Al Jazeera launches

  • Al Jazeera begins broadcasting on satellite TV, as an independent channel funded by the Emir.
  • Based in Qatar, it tackled many issues deemed as controversial all over the Arab world.
  • The channel has since grown to one of the biggest media outlets in the world – providing a mainstream alternative to coverage on, for example, the Gulf and Iraq War(s).

1999 – Slow start to democratization

  • Municipal elections are announced, as well as the first democratic polls since 1971.
  • Marks the start of a democratization program.

2000 – A cousin of the Emir and 32 others are jailed for the failed 1996 coup – many of whom are still in prison.

2001 – Qatar settles old and historical border disputes with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia – solidifying interstate stability in the Arabian peninsula.

2002 – The US prepares for Iraqi invasion

  • The al-Udeid airbase is developed and expanded.
  • US Central Command staff is deployed to Qatar.

2003 –

  • March: Qatar serves as US base
    • US Central Command forward base in Qatar serves as the main nerve center for the US-led military campaign in Iraq.
  • April: Voters approve a new constitution, establishing a 45-member parliament with 30 elected members and 15 selected by the Emir.
  • August: The Emir names his younger son Prince Tamim as crown prince, replacing his other son (and more likely candidate) Prince Jassim.

2004 – Former Chechen president Zelimkhan Yanderbiyev is killed in an explosion in Doha where he had been living.

  • Qatar sentences two Russian agents to lifetime in prison.
  • Though the pair were eventually extradited to Russia, relations between the countries deteriorate.

2005 –

  • March: A car bomb at a theater near a British school in the capitol, Doha, kills one British national and injures a dozen others.
  • June: Qatar’s first written constitution comes into effect. Realizing some democratic reforms like an elected parliament.
  • November: Qatar and the US launch a joint project to build the world’s largest liquefied natural gas plant – worth $14 billion.

2007 – Qatar and Dubai become the two biggest shareholders of the London Stock Exchange – marking Qatar’s shift toward an investment economy.

2009 – Qatar cuts trade ties with Israel following Gaza offensive.

  • Qatar was the only Gulf state to have had trade ties with Israel.

2010 – Qatar wins controversial bid to host 2022 Fifa World Cup.

2011 –

  • March: Qatar joins international “no-fly zone” operations against Muammar Ghaddafi in Libya.
  • November: The Emir announces election to the advisory council will be slated for 2013 – marking what would be Qatar’s first legislative elections.

2012 – Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani visits Gaza

  • The first head of state to do so since Hamas took power.

2013 – Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani takes over as Emir of the country after his father Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani abdicates.

2014 –

  • March: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and UAE temporarily withdraw ambassadors from the Qatari capitol, following accusations of Qatar having meddled in their internal affairs.
  • September: Qatar takes part in US-led airstrikes against IS militants in Syria, along with four other Arab states.

2015 –

  • March: Qatar and four other Gulf states take part in Saudi-led airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
  • May: Amnesty International publishes a harsh report, criticizing Qatar’s apparent non-effort to improve the rights of migrant workers ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup. The government disputes the Amnesty report – which claims the progress is basically non-existent.