Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah Biography
Nationality: Bahraini, Egyptian
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa
Born Country: Bahrain
Born in: Riffa, Bahrain
Famous as: King of Bahrain
Spouse/Ex-: Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa (m. 1968), Sheia bint Hassan Al-Khrayyesh Al-Ajmi
father: Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa
mother: Hessa bint Salman Al Khalifa
siblings: Abdullah bin Isa Al Khalifah, Ali bin Isa Al Khalifah, Mariam bint Isa Al Khalifah, Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifah, Mouneira bint Isa Al Khalifah, Noura bint Isa Al Khalifah, Rashed bin Isa Al Khalifah, Sheikha bint Isa Al Khalifah
children: Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Faisal bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Hessa bint Hamad Al Khalifa, Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Munira bint Hamad Al Khalifa, Najla bint Hamad Al Khalifa, Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Noura bint Hamad Al Khalifa, Rima bint Hamad Al Khalifa, Salman; Crown Prince of Bahrain
Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is the present king of Bahrain. He has also served as an emir of Bahrain from 1999 to 2002. He belongs to the Al Khalifa family of rulers. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the first emir, to become head of the state (as the emir) in 1999. Later, in 2002, he elevated the Emirate to a kingdom, pronouncing himself as the first king of Bahrain. He was born in Riffa, near Bahrain’s capital city, Manama, and studied in Bahrain as well as the UK. He received military education in Aldershot, England, and later at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA. He took active interest in establishing the ‘Bahrain Defence Force’ (BDF) and became its commander-in-chief. He was driving force behind establishing various organizations, such as the ‘Historical Documents Centre’ and the ‘Bahrain Centre for Studies and Research.’ He has been trained as a helicopter pilot and has established the ‘Bahrain Amiri Air Force.’ As the first king of Bahrain, he brought in many reforms, including those for equal rights and citizenship for women. His rule faced unrest when the Shi’ite community protested against discrimination. The suppression of this unrest drew criticism from human rights bodies. Subsequently, he set up a commission for inquiry. Hamad has four wives and 12 children.
- Hamad was born on January 28, 1950, in the town of Rifa’a/Riffa, situated 15 miles outside the Bahrain capital, Manama. He is the eldest son of the first emir, the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and his wife, Sheikha Hessa bint Salman Al Khalifa.
- Hamad started his education at the age of 6. His father selected specialized teachers for his studies. He completed his schooling from the ‘Manama Secondary School,’ Bahrain. While in school, he participated in various such sports, such as swimming, horse riding, and target shooting. He also attended court sessions of his father.
- After graduating school, he was proclaimed the ‘Crown Prince’ on June 27, 1964. He was 14 at that time.
- Later, Hamad joined the ‘Applegarth College’ in Surrey, England. He then studied at the ‘Leys School’ in Cambridge, England. Subsequently, he joined the ’Mons Officer Cadet School’ in Aldershot, England, for military training. He graduated on September 14, 1968. He also attended the ‘Royal Military Academy’ in Sandhurst.
- After returning to Bahrain, Hamad assisted his father in founding the ‘BDF,’ which was established in August 1968. In January 1970, he became commander-in-chief of the ‘BDF.’ He was appointed as the chairman of the ‘Irrigation Council’ and the ‘Manama Municipal Council’ in 1968. Between 1968 and 1969, he was commander of the ‘Bahrain National Guard.’ The ‘State Council’ was established on January 19, 1970, with him as a member.
- In 1971, Bahrain became independent. The cabinet was formed on August 15, 1971, and Hamad was appointed as the minister of defense.
- Hamad joined the ‘US Army Command and General Staff College’ at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, US, on June 21, 1972, and graduated with a degree in leadership on June 9, 1973. On May 31, 1972, he also received a National Diploma in military administration from the ‘Industrial College for the Military Forces’ in Washington.
- Hamad became deputy to the head of the ‘Al Khalifa Family Council (AFC)’ on June 26, 1974. In 1975, he was made the head of the ‘Supreme Council for Youth and Sports.’ He took interest in breeding of Arabian horses and equestrian sports. He established ‘Amiri Stables’ in June 1977. He was also involved in the research of the history of the Bahraini people, and in January 1978, he founded a center for collection of Bahraini documents, known as the ‘Historical Documents Centre.’
- In October 1977, Hamad began training in helicopter flying. He graduated as a helicopter pilot on January 14, 1978. He was resolved to create the state air-force. In 1987, he established the ‘Bahrain Amiri Air Force.’ In 1981, he founded the ‘Bahrain Centre for Studies and Research,’ an organization to boost scientific research and technology. He also became its head.
- Hamad’s father, the first emir of Bahrain, Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, died on March 6, 1999. Subsequently, Hamad became the emir of Bahrain. After inheriting the power, he worked to bring political stability to his country and also to build its economic growth.
- Hamad brought some domestic reforms. The political prisoners were released, the ‘State Security Court’ was dissolved, and the 1974 ‘Decree on State Security Measures’ was brought to an end.
- In 2000, Hamad created a draft of the ‘National Action Charter,’ which focused on establishing an elected parliament and a constitutional monarchy in Bahrain. It was approved by the national referendum in 2001. On February 14, 2002, Bahrain was declared a constitutional monarchy, with Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa as its first king. He promulgated an amended constitution and called for municipal and national elections.
- Hamad brought in a number of reforms, including an equal rights reform for women, giving them the right to vote and equal citizenship. He took steps to elevate the living standards of his country and also to improve the human rights situation in the state.
- However, between 2004 and 2010, there were incidents of unrest, as the Shi’ite community protested against corruption and discrimination. Human rights organizations protested against the suppressive actions taken against the demonstrators. In 2011, Hamad’s kingdom experienced an uprising, with protests and demonstrations inspired by the pro-democracy unrests in Tunisia and Egypt. The demonstrators demanded political and economic reforms and protested against the discrimination faced by the Shi’ite community. The government tried to suppress the protests, but their actions violated human rights. Two protestors were killed, and despite Hamad’s reassurance, the suppressive actions continued, inviting criticism from human rights organizations. As the unrest escalated, 2,000 soldiers were invited from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to control the situation. This uprising also resulted in heavy economic losses. In June 2011, Hamad set up the ‘Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’ to examine and investigate the discontent.
- On October 9, 1968, Hamad married his first cousin, Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, in Riffa. Later, he married three more times. With his four wives, he has seven sons and five daughters. One of his sons (from his third wife), Sheikh Faisal bin Hamad Al Khalifa, died in a car accident in January 2006.
- Hamad has various hobbies, such as falconry, fishing, and horse riding. He also takes active interest in playing golf, tennis, and football. He is also keen on preserving heritage. He has published a book titled ‘First Light: Modern Bahrain and Its Heritage.’ He acquired Egyptian citizenship in 2016. Hamad has received a number of titles and honors, too.
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