Al Qasimi

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Al Qasimi
Al Qawasem.png
Al Qassimi dynasty flag and emblems representing the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (top) and Sharjah (bottom)
CountryUnited Arab Emirates
Founded1722; 300 years ago (1722)
FounderSheikh Rahma bin Matar Al-Qasimi
Current head
Style(s)His/Her Highness

The Al Qasimi (Arabic: القواسم, spelled sometimes as Al Qassimi or Al Qassemi; plural: Al Qawasem Arabic: القواسم and, archaically, Joasmee) is an Arab dynasty in the Persian Gulf that rules Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, today forming two of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. They are one of the longest reigning royal families in the Arabian peninsula.


Flag of the Al Qawasim prior to 1820. Flown after 1820 during war time only. The motto reads "A victory from Allah and an imminent conquest".

The dynasty claims to be descended from the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[1][2]

The Al Qasimi emerged as a maritime power based both in Ras Al Khaimah on the Southern shore of the Persian Gulf and Qishm, Bandar Abbas and Lingeh on the Persian shore in the 18th-century.

Maritime power[edit]

British naval fleet attack Ras Al Khaimah in November 1809

The Al Qasimi control of trade in the Persian Gulf area led to conflict with Oman and eventually with Oman's ally, Britain, and to the Al Qasimi being labelled by the British as pirates. This led to the identification of the southern shore of the Persian Gulf as the 'Pirate Coast', although following the General Maritime Treaty of 1820 and the 1853 Perpetual Maritime Peace, the various coastal emirates in the area became known as the Trucial States.

Dhayah Fort at the hill top. In 1819 it was the last Al-Qasimi stronghold to fall in the Persian Gulf campaign of 1819. The fall of Dhayah was to pave the way for the signing of the General Maritime Treaty of 1820.

Following decades of incidents where British shipping had fallen foul of the aggressive Al Qasimi, a first British expeditionary force embarked for Ras Al Khaimah in 1809, the Persian Gulf campaign of 1809. This campaign led to the signing of a peace treaty between the British and Hussan Bin Rahmah, the Al Qasimi leader.[3] This treaty broke down in 1815 and, in 1819, the British mounted a second, altogether more successful, punitive campaign against the Al Qasimi in Ras Al Khaimah[4] under William Keir Grant.

The case against the Al Qasimi has been contested by the historian, author and current Ruler of Sharjah, Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi in his book The Myth of Arab Piracy in the Gulf, in which he argues that the charges amount to a 'causus belli' by the East India Company, which sought to limit or eliminate the 'informal' Arab trade with India, and presents a number of internal communications between the Bombay Government and its officials, which shed doubt on many of the key charges made by British historian J.G. Lorimer in his seminal history of the affair.[5]

At the time, the Chief Secretary of the Government of Bombay, F. Warden, presented a minute which laid blame for the piracy on the Wahhabi influence on the Al Qasimi and the interference of the East India Company in native affairs. Warden also successfully argued against a proposal to install the Sultan of Muscat as Ruler of the whole peninsula. Warden's arguments and proposals likely influenced the shape of the eventual treaty concluded with the Sheikhs of the Gulf coast.[6]

That 1820 treaty asserted, 'There shall be a cessation of plunder and piracy by land and sea on the part of the Arabs, who are parties to this contract, for ever.' It then goes on to define piracy as being any attack that is not an action of 'acknowledged war'. The 'pacificated Arabs' agreed, on land and sea, to carry a flag being a red rectangle contained within a white border of equal width to the contained rectangle, 'with or without letters on it, at their option'. This flag was to be a symbol of peace with the British government and each other.

The treaty having been signed by Keir Grant and all of the Trucial Rulers, the Government in Bombay made clear that while it was happy with Grant's management of the military expedition, it was most dissatisfied with his leniency over the coastal tribes and desired, 'if it were not too late, to introduce some conditions of greater stringency'. Grant's response was spirited, pointing out that to have enforced extreme measures would have meant pursuing the chiefs into the interior rather than accepting their voluntary submission. This would have contravened Grant's instructions. In the end, Bombay allowed the treaty to stand.[7]

Alongside their stronghold in the Persian Gulf & Gulf of Oman the Qawasem were active both militarily and economically in the Gulf of Aden and as far west as the Mocha on the Red Sea.[8] They had numerous commercial ties with the Somalis, leading vessels from Ras Al Khaimah and the Persian Gulf to regularly attend trade fairs in the large ports of Berbera and Zeila.[9] In the 1830s the Isaaq Sultan Farah Guled and Haji Ali penned a letter to Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi of Ras Al Khaimah requesting military assistance and joint religious war against the British.[10]

The Al Qasimi rulers of Ras Al Khaimah (capital to 1819) and Sharjah (capital from 1820)[edit]

The map shows the territories under the Qawasem rule during the late 18th and early 19th century.
  1. Sheikh Rahma bin Matar Al Qasimi (1722–1760)
  2. Sheikh Rashid bin Matar Al Qasimi (1760–1777)
  3. Sheikh Saqr bin Rashid Al Qasimi (1777–1803)
  4. Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi (1803–1808)
  5. Sheikh Hassan bin Rahma Al Qasimi (1814–1820)
  6. Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi (1820–1866)
  7. Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi (1866-1867)

List of Ras Al Khaimah rulers[edit]

Ae rak-escudo.png

  1. Sheikh Ibrahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi (1866 – May 1867)
  2. Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi (May 1867 – 14 April 1868)
  3. Sheikh Salim bin Sultan Al Qasimi (14 April 1868 – 1869)
  4. Sheikh Humaid bin Abdullah Al Qasimi (1869 – August 1900)
  5. Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad Al Qasimi (1914–1921)
  6. Sheikh Sultan bin Salim Al Qasimi (19 July 1921 – February 1948)
  7. Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qassimi (February 1948 – 27 October 2010)
  8. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi (27 October 2010 – present)

List of Sharjah rulers[edit]

Ae sharjah-escudo.png

  1. Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi (1803-1866)
  2. Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi (1866 – 14 April 1868)
  3. Sheikh Salim bin Sultan Al Qasimi (14 April 1868 – March 1883)
  4. Sheikh Ibrahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi (1869 – 1871)
  5. Sheikh Saqr bin Khalid Al Qasimi (March 1883 – 1914)
  6. Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad Al Qasimi (13 April 1914 – 21 November 1924)
  7. Sheikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi II (21 November 1924 – 1951)
  8. Sheikh Saqr bin Sultan Al Qasimi (May 1951 – 24 June 1965) - first time ruling
  9. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed Al Qasimi (24 June 1965 – 24 January 1972)
  10. Sheikh Saqr bin Sultan Al Qasimi (25 January 1972 – 1972) - second time ruling
  11. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi (1972 – 17 June 1987) - first time ruling
  12. Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Al Qasimi (17–23 June 1987) removed previous sheikh during coup in sharjah
  13. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi (23 June 1987 – present) - second time ruling after being restored

Current Al Qasimi rulers[edit]

Historical flags[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "HH Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Bin Sultan Al Qassimi - Family". 12 May 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-05-12.
  2. ^ Lorimer, John (1915). Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf Vol II. British Government, Bombay. p. 1547.
  3. ^ "'Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. Vol I. Historical. Part IA & IB. J G Lorimer. 1915' [653] (796/1782)". Retrieved 13 January 2014. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ "Al-Qawāsim | Arabian dynasty". Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  5. ^ al-Qāsimī, Sulṭān ibn Muḥammad (1986). The myth of Arab piracy in the Gulf. London: Croom Helm. ISBN 0709921063. OCLC 12583612.
  6. ^ Lorimer, John (1915). Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. Government of Bombay. pp. 659–660.
  7. ^ Lorimer, John (1915). Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. British Government, Bombay. pp. 673–4.
  8. ^ Davies, Charles E. (1997). The Blood-red Arab Flag: An Investigation Into Qasimi Piracy, 1797-1820. University of Exeter Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780859895095.
  9. ^ Pankhurst, Richard (1965). "The Trade of the Gulf of Aden Ports of Africa in the Early Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries". Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 3 (1): 36–81.
  10. ^ Al Qasimi, Sultan bin Muhammad (1996). رسالة زعماء الصومال إلى الشيخ سلطان بن صقر القاسمي (in Arabic). p. ١٧.
  11. ^ "Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah dies".