Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
|Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
حمد بن عيسى آل خليفة
The King in 2016.
|King of Bahrain|
|Reign||6 March 1999– present|
|Coronation||14 February 2002|
|Predecessor||Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa|
|Heir apparent||Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa|
|Prime Minister||Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa|
|Born||(1950-01-28) 28 January 1950
|Spouse||Sabika bint Ibrahim (1968–present)
Sheia bint Hassan Al-Khrayyesh Al-Ajmi
|Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Khalifa bin Hamad Al Khalifa
Najla bint Hamad Al Khalifa
Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa
Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa
Faisal bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Sultan bin Hamad Al Khalifa
Hessa bint Hamad Al Khalifa
Nura bint Hamad Al Khalifa
Munira bint Hamad Al Khalifa
Reema bint Hamad Al Khalifa
|Father||Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa|
|Mother||Hessa bint Salman Al Khalifa|
Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa (Arabic: حمد بن عيسى بن سلمان آل خليفة Ḥamad bin ʿĪsā bin Salmān ʾĀl Ḫalīfah; ) is the 1st King of Bahrain, having previously been its 2nd Emir (from 6 March 1999). He is the son of Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the previous and 1st Emir. The country has been ruled by the Al Khalifa dynasty since 1783.
Early life and education
Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was born on 28 January 1950 in Riffa, Bahrain. His parents were Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, then Crown Prince, and Hessa bint Salman Al Khalifa.
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. 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.
Hamad 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.
In October 1977, Hamad started learning to fly helicopters, successfully completing the training in January 1978. He then worked to establish the Bahrain Amiri Air Force, which came into being in 1987 when the defence force air wing was reconstituted as an air force.
On the death of his father Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Hamad became Emir of Bahrain on 6 March 1999. 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. 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.
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 majority 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.
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, Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bahrain Economic Development Board and the Supreme Council for Women. Also, the vast majority of significant positions in the Bahrain Defence Force are filled with Sunnis, who account for around a third of the population. King Hamad claims that he is giving an equal chance to all Bahrainis regardless of their sect.
In October 2010, Hamad’s government accused 24 Shi’ite Bahraini citizens of forming a terrorist cell linked to Iran and trained in Syria intending to overthrow the regime, and for planning terrorist attacks. Opposition parties denounced the accusations and described it as propaganda. After a few weeks, tension rose again after the controversial Bahraini parliamentary election, 2010 when the main opposition bloc Al Wefaq National Islamic Society with secularist National Democratic Action Society (Waad) complained that the election system was unfair and that there were aims to reduce the number of opposition chairs in the parliament, although the first party won nearly 40% of the available seats.
Bahraini protests of 2011
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 demonstration plans.
On 15 February 2011, Hamad apologized for the deaths of two demonstrators in a rare TV speech and urged an investigation into the incident. Two days later, four protesters were killed and hundreds wounded when protesters were attacked in Pearl Roundabout at 3:00 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.
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 armored support, and the United Arab Emirates deployed about 500 police officers. Opposition parties reacted strongly, calling it an “occupation”. Hamad, however, claimed that he deployed the troops to “protect infrastructure and to secure key installations”. After this step, the country’s economy suffered losses estimated at billions. The security situation deteriorated in areas where people were demonstrating against him. While dozens of deaths were announced, including five who died in custody as a result of torture.
On 1 June 2011, protests erupted across Shia-dominated areas of Bahrain to demand Hamad’s resignation and to end martial law, as he announced that the state of emergency was officially lifted.
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 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 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “commend[ed] King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa’s initiative in commissioning it”. 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.”
Relations with the British court
King Hamad has good contacts with the British royal family. 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. Earlier, in 2005, he was the only sitting foreign head of state to attend the second wedding of Prince Charles.
Hamad has four wives and has had in total twelve children: seven sons and five daughters:
- He married his first wife (also his first cousin), Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, at Rifa’a on 9 October 1968. She is Bahraini and together they have three sons and one daughter:
- Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (born 21 October 1969)
- Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (born 30 June 1975)
- Khalifa bin Hamad Al Khalifa (born 4 June 1977)
- Najla bint Hamad Al Khalifa (born 20 May 1981)
- His second wife, Sheia bint Hassan Al Khrayyesh Al Ajmi is from Kuwait. Together they have two sons:
- Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa (born 8 May 1987)
- Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa (born 23 September 1989)
- His third wife, a daughter of Shaikh Faisal bin Muhammad bin Shuraim Al Marri, with whom he has one son and two daughters:
- Faisal bin Hamad Al Khalifa (12 February 1991 – 12 January 2006), died in a car accident
- Noura bint Hamad Al Khalifa (born 6 November 1993)
- Munira bint Hamad Al Khalifa (born 15 July 1990)
- His fourth wife, a daughter of Jabor Al Naimi, with whom he has one son and two daughters:
- Sultan bin Hamad Al Khalifa
- Hessa bint Hamad Al Khalifa
- Rima bint Hamad Al Khalifa (Born 2002)
Titles and styles
The King of Bahrain
|Reference style||His Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
- 28 January 1950 – 16 December 1961: Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
- 16 December 1961 – 27 June 1964: His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
- 27 June 1964 – 6 March 1999: His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain
- 6 March 1999 – 14 February 2002: His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Emir of Bahrain
- 14 February 2002 – present: His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain
Honours and awards
King Hamad has received numerous honours, for example:
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Star of Jordan (1 February 1967)
- Order of the Two Rivers, 1st class (Iraq, 22 February 1969)
- Order of Muhammad (Morocco, 16 October 1970)
- Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Renaissance (Jordan, 1 September 1972)
- Collar of the Order of the Republic of Egypt (24 January 1973)
- Collar of the Order of the Crown (Iran, 28 April 1973
- Collar of the Order of Abdulaziz al Saud (Saudi Arabia, 4 April 1976)
- Star of the Republic of Indonesia, 1st class (8 October 1977)
- Order of Merit the Republic of Mauritania, 1st class (1 April 1978)
- Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (UK, 15 February 1979)
- Order of the Grand Conqueror of Libya, 1st class (1 September 1979)
- Honorary Recipient of the Order of the Crown of the Realm (2000)
- Order of Zayed of the UAE (2 February 2005)
- Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (2006)
- Order of the Republic of the Yemen, 1st class (25 March 2010)
- : Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog (4 February 2011)
- Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit of France
- Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic of Spain (4 December 1981)
- Recipient of the Royal Family Order of the Crown of Brunei (3 May 2017)