Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa

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Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
  • حمد بن عيسى آل خليفة
King Hamad in 2016
King of Bahrain
Reign14 February 2002 – present
PredecessorPosition established
Himself (as Emir)
Heir apparentSalman bin Hamad Al Khalifa
Prime MinisterKhalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa
Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa
Emir of Bahrain
Reign6 March 1999 – 14 February 2002
PredecessorIsa bin Salman Al Khalifa
SuccessorPosition abolished
Himself (as King)
Prime MinisterKhalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa
Born (1950-01-28) 28 January 1950 (age 74)
Riffa, Bahrain[a]
  • Sabika bint Ibrahim (1968–present)
  • Sheia bint Hassan bin Khraish Alajmi
  • Hessa bint Faisal bin Shraim Almerri
  • Manal bint Jabor Aljbor Alnuaimi
Arabicحمد بن عيسى آل خليفة
FatherIsa bin Salman Al Khalifa
MotherHessa bint Salman Al Khalifa
ReligionSunni Islam
Styles of
The King of Bahrain
Reference styleHis Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty

Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa (Arabic: حمد بن عيسى بن سلمان آل خليفة Ḥamad bin ʿĪsā bin Salmān Āl Khalīfa; born 28 January 1950) is King of Bahrain since 14 February 2002, after ruling as Emir of Bahrain from 6 March 1999.[1] He is the son of Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the previous and first emir. The country has been ruled by the Al Khalifa dynasty since 1783.

Early life and education[edit]

The Leys School, Cambridge

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was born on 28 January 1950 in Riffa, Bahrain.[2] His parents were Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, then Crown Prince, and Hessa bint Salman Al Khalifa.[3]

After attending Manama secondary school in Bahrain, Hamad was sent to England to attend Applegarth College in Godalming, Surrey before taking a place at The Leys School in Cambridge. Hamad then underwent military training, first with the British Army at Mons Officer Cadet School at Aldershot in Hampshire, graduating in September 1968.[2] Four years later, in June 1972, Hamad attended the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, graduating the following June with a degree in leadership.[4]

Crown prince[edit]

Sultan bin Abdulaziz and Hamad bin Isa in the 1980s

Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa was designated as heir apparent by his father on 27 June 1964. In 1968, he was appointed as the chairman of the irrigation council and Manama municipal council. He was commissioned into the Bahrain National Guard on 16 February 1968 and appointed as its commander the same year, remaining in that post until 1969 when he was appointed as the commander-in-chief of the Bahrain Defence Force. In 1970, Hamad became the head of the Bahraini department of defence and the vice-chairman of the administrative council, remaining in both offices until 1971. From 1971 to 1988 he was the minister of state for defence.[5]

In October 1977, Sheikh Hamad started learning to fly helicopters, successfully completing the training in January 1978. He then worked to establish the Bahrain Amiri Air Force,[4] which came into being in 1987 when the defence force air wing was reconstituted as an air force.[6]


King Hamad in 2003 with Donald H. Rumsfeld

On the death of his father Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Hamad became Emir of Bahrain on 6 March 1999.[1] As Emir, Hamad brought several political reforms to Bahrain. These included the release of all political prisoners, the dissolution of the State Security Court and the abolition of the 1974 Decree on State Security Measures. Additionally, many Bahraini citizens were permitted to return after several years in exile overseas.[7] In 2002, he declared himself king. He enjoys wide executive authorities which include appointing the prime minister and his ministers, commanding the army, chairing the Higher Judicial Council, appointing the parliament's upper half and dissolving its elected lower half.[8]: . 15 

Political turmoil[edit]

President Bush welcomes Hamad to the Oval Office on 29 November 2004.

After Hamad took power in 1999, he focused on attaining stability in a nation riddled with profound tensions after the 1990s uprising. The King succeeded in improving the living standards and in making Bahrain a financial hub. During the period 2003–2010 the Shi'ite community accused his government of corruption, discrimination in housing and jobs, recruiting foreigners to the military services and bringing Sunni tribes from Asia to change the demographic composition of the nation.[citation needed]

Although King Hamad's reign has seen the admittance of Shi'ites into positions in the government, there have still been calls for a more equitable distribution of positions and jobs. The Al Khalifa family lead a large number of ministerial and governmental posts including the Ministry of the Interior,[9] Ministry of Justice,[10] the Ministry of Finance,[11] the Ministry of Culture,[12] the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,[13] the Bahrain Economic Development Board[14] and the Supreme Council for Women.[15] The vast majority of significant positions in the Bahrain Defence Force are held by Sunnis.[16]

2011 Bahraini uprising[edit]

Hamad bin Isa inspecting the Guard of Honour in New Delhi on 19 February 2014

On 14 February 2011, the tenth anniversary of a referendum in favour of the National Action Charter, and ninth anniversary of the writing of the Constitution of 2002, Bahrain was rocked by protests inspired by the Arab Spring and co-ordinated by a Facebook page named "Day of Rage in Bahrain", a page that was liked by tens of thousands just one week after its creation. The Bahrain government responded with what has been described as a "brutal" crackdown[17][18][19] on the protests, including violations of human rights that caused anger. Later on, demonstrators demanded that Hamad step down.[20] As a result of this "massive" crackdown, Foreign Policy Magazine classified him as ranking 3rd out of 8 of "America's Unsavory Allies" calling him "one of the bad guys the U.S. still supports".[21] On 11 February 2011, King Hamad ordered that 1,000 Bahraini Dinars (approximately US$2,667) be given to "each family" to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the National Action Charter referendum. Agence France-Presse linked the BD1,000 payments to 14 February 2011 demonstration plans.[22]

King Hamad meets with President Donald Trump on 21 May 2017

On 15 February 2011, Hamad apologized for the deaths of two demonstrators in a rare TV speech and urged an investigation into the incident.[8] Two days later, four protesters were killed and hundreds wounded when protesters were attacked in Pearl Roundabout at 03:00 am local time. The Pearl Roundabout was evacuated and encircled by the Bahraini army. Two days later, Prince Salman, Hamad's son, ordered the withdrawal of army troops from there after the death of another protester caused by live ammunition next to Pearl roundabout.[citation needed]

During the peak of the Bahraini uprising in mid March 2011, Hamad declared a State of National Safety for three months just after Salman summoned Peninsula Shield Force troops to enter Bahrain. Saudi Arabia deployed about 1,000 troops with armoured support, and the United Arab Emirates deployed about 500 troops. Opposition parties reacted strongly, calling it an "occupation". Hamad, however, claimed that he deployed the troops to "protect infrastructure and to secure key installations".

In June 2011, Hamad commissioned the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, headed by respected human rights lawyer M. Cherif Bassiouni, to look into the events surrounding the unrest. The establishment of the BICI was praised by Barack Obama and the international community[23][24] as a step towards establishing responsibility and accountability for the events of the 2011–2012 Bahraini uprising. The BICI reported its findings in November 2011 and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "commend[ed] King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa's initiative in commissioning it".[25] In August 2012, Amnesty International stated that "the government's response has only scratched the surface of these issues. Reforms have been piecemeal, perhaps aiming to appease Bahrain's international partners, and have failed to provide real accountability and justice for the victims".[26]

Foreign relations[edit]

Sheikh Hamad with president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro in 2021
Israeli President Isaac Herzog during a state visit to Bahrain with King Hamad, December 2022

The king was invited by the British court to the wedding of Prince William, but declined amidst protests by human rights activists, who had pledged to disrupt his stay in Britain because of his violent response to demonstrators.[27] In August 2020, King Hamad explained to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Bahrain is committed to the creation of a Palestinian state, implicitly rejecting the normalization of ties with Israel.[28] However, on 11 September 2020, it was announced that Bahrain and Israel had agreed to establish full diplomatic relations.[29] On 15 September 2020, Bahrain officially opened state to state relations with Israel, signing diplomatic agreements at a public ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C.[30] On November 2, 2023, Bahrain expelled the Israeli ambassador and ceased economic ties in response to Israeli military action in Gaza and pervasive settler violence in the West Bank.[31]

On 19 September 2022, he attended the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey, London.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Hamad has four wives and has had in total twelve children: seven sons and five daughters.[33]

  • He married his first wife (also his first cousin), Sheikha Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, at Rifa'a on 9 October 1968. She is Bahraini and together they have three sons and one daughter:
  • His second wife, Sheikha Sheia bint Hassan Al Khrayyesh Al Ajmi is from Kuwait. Together they have two sons:
  • His third wife, Sheikha Hessa bint Faisal bin Muhammad bin Shuraim Al Marri, with whom he has one son and two daughters
    • Sheikha Munira bint Hamad Al Khalifa (born 15 July 1990)
    • Sheikh Faisal bin Hamad Al Khalifa (12 February 1991 – 12 January 2006), died in a car accident.
    • Sheikha Noura bint Hamad Al Khalifa (born 6 November 1993)
  • His fourth wife, Sheikha Manal bint Jabor Al Naimi, with whom he has one son and two daughters:
    • Sheikh Sultan bin Hamad Al Khalifa (born 1997)
    • Sheikha Hessa bint Hamad Al Khalifa (born 2000)
    • Sheikha Rima bint Hamad Al Khalifa (born 2002)

Honours and awards[edit]

King Hamad has received numerous honours from:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Bahrain profile – Timeline". BBC News. 12 November 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United States". Bahrain Embassy. Archived from the original on 24 September 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  3. ^ "Bahrain mourns death of king's mother". Gulf News. 7 August 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b "HM the King". Kingdom of Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Government of Bahrain. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  5. ^ "H.M. KING HAMAD BIN ISA AL KHALIFA". Melange Magazine. 1 November 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  6. ^ "H.M THE KING".
  7. ^ "Bahrain: Promising human rights reform must continue". Amnesty International. 13 March 2001. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry" (PDF). Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Ministry of Interior". Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  10. ^ "MoJ Ministers and Undersecretaries' Names". Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  11. ^ "MoF Welcome Message". Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  12. ^ "MoC Organisation Chart". Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  13. ^ "MoFA Organizational Structure". Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  14. ^ "BEDB Directors". Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  15. ^ "Supreme Council for Women". Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  16. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report for 2011" (PDF). U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  17. ^ Law, Bill (6 April 2011) "Police Brutality Turns Bahrain Into 'Island of Fear' Crossing Continents (via BBC News) Retrieved 15 April 2011
  18. ^ Press release (30 March 2011) "USA Emphatic Support to Saudi Arabia" Zayd Alisa (via Scoop) Retrieved 15 April 2011
  19. ^ Cockburn, Patrick (18 March 2011) "The Footage That Reveals the Brutal Truth About Bahrain's Crackdown – Seven Protest Leaders Arrested as Video Clip Highlights Regime's Ruthless Grip on Power" The Independent Retrieved 15 April 2011
  20. ^ "Bahrain Mourners Call for End to Monarchy – Mood of Defiance Against Entire Ruling System After Brutal Attack on Pearl Roundabout Protest Camp That Left at Least Five Dead". The Guardian. London. 18 February 2011. Archived from the original on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  21. ^ Uri Friedman (28 October 2011). "America's Unsavory Allies". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on 22 November 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  22. ^ "Bahrains king gifts 3000 every family". France 24. 11 February 2011. Archived from the original on 15 February 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  23. ^ Andrew Malcolm (2 July 2011). "Jay Carney says vacationing Obama welcomes new democratic dialogue in Bahrain". Los Angeles Times.
  24. ^ "Bahrain – Alistair Burt welcomes independent commission". Foreign & Commonwealth Office. 30 June 2001.
  25. ^ Hillary Rodham Clinton (23 November 2011). "Release of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) Report". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 24 November 2011.
  26. ^ "Urgent action: Bahraini activist sentenced to three years" Amnesty International 21 August 2012 Retrieved 22 August 2012
  27. ^ "Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Muslim leaders invited to royal wedding". The Times of India. 26 April 2011.
  28. ^ "Bahrain rejects U.S. push to normalise relations with Israel". Al Jazeera. 26 August 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  29. ^ "Bahrain establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel, Trump announces". The Times of Israel. 11 September 2020.
  30. ^ Chappell, Bill (15 September 2020). "Israel, Bahrain And UAE Sign Deals Formalizing Ties At White House". NPR. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  31. ^ "Bahrain recalls ambassador from Israel amid escalating assault on Gaza". Al Jazeera. 2 November 2023. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  32. ^ "Queen Elizabeth II's Funeral: Arab Royals Pay Their Respects Ahead of The Ceremony". Harper's Bazaar. 19 September 2022. Retrieved 24 October 2022.
  33. ^ "How many wives and Daughters does the crown prince of Bahrain have?".
  34. ^ "Ο Πρόεδρος της Δημοκρατίας έτυχε επίσημης υποδοχής από το Βασιλιά του Μπαχρέιν". Γραφείο Τύπου και Πληροφοριών. 9 March 2015. Archived from the original on 16 July 2019. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  35. ^ Bahraini King holds talks with Sultan of Oman
  36. ^ "Otras disposiciones" (PDF). Boletín Oficial del Estado. 4 December 1981. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  37. ^ "Bahagian Istiadat dan Urusetia Persidangan Antarabangsa". istiadat.gov.my. Archived from the original on 19 July 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  38. ^ "Photo". Archived from the original on 2 December 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  39. ^ علي رجب (27 January 2016). "بالصور.. العاهل البحريني يمنح الرئيس التونسي وسام الشيخ عيسى". بوابة فيتو (in Arabic). Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  40. ^ "Mutual Visits". sis.gov.eg. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  41. ^ "HM King receives call from Palestinian President". Bahrain News Agency. 10 April 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  42. ^ "Bahrain to Bolster ties with Brunei". newsofbahrain.com. 4 May 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  43. ^ "Королю Бахрейна вручён орден "Bitaraplyk"". uzbekistan.tmembassy.gov.tm (in Russian). Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  44. ^ "Johor Sultan helps boost Bahrain ties". The Star.com.my. Retrieved 13 June 2022.
  45. ^ "Bolsonaro condecora líderes do Oriente Médio antes de viagem à região". noticias.uol.com.br (in Portuguese). Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  46. ^ "M King awarded Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, by US President". Bahrain News Agency. 19 January 2021. Retrieved 4 March 2024.
  47. ^ "Moscow University Awards HM King Hamad Honorary Doctorate". newsofbahrain.com. 3 July 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.


  1. ^ Bahrain was under the Persian Gulf Residency as a British protectorate state at the time of Hamad's birth.

External links[edit]

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Born: 28 January 1950
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emir of Bahrain
Became King
New title King of Bahrain
Heir apparent:
Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa