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Qatar Timeline

Source: State Department

The discovery of oil and gas transformed Qatar from a poor fishing and pearling community to the richest country in the world. Here's a look back at some key moments in the country's history.

Dec. 18, 1878: Al Thani family take the throne. They remain Qatar's ruling family. Dec. 18 has become a national holiday celebrating the family's accession.

"Treaties signed in 1868 and 1916 between the Al Thani family and the United Kingdom recognized the Al Thani family's authority in Qatar but placed mutually agreed restrictions on Qatari sovereignty from 1868 through 1971." -- Christopher M. Blanchard, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, Congressional Research Service, Jan. 30, 2014

1939: Oil is discovered but World War II delays exploitation.

1950s: Oil revenue begins to fund infrastructure improvements.

Sept. 3, 1971: Independence from the United Kingdom.

1990: Qatar plays pivotal role in helping Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion. It is at this time that the relationship with the United States and Qatar strengthens.

Late 1980s to early 1990s: "The Qatari economy was crippled by the continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the Amir, who had ruled the country since 1972."

1995: In a bloodless coup, Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani overthrew his father. "In short order, HAMAD oversaw the creation of the pan-Arab satellite news network AL-Jazeera and Qatar's pursuit of a leadership role in mediating regional conflicts."

2001: Border disputes with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are settled.

2002-2003: The forward headquarters for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) moves from Saudi Arabia to Qatar, southwest of the capital city of Doha. According to CENTCOM's website the base in Qatar oversees security issues for 20 countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, SaudiArabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen. "The Al Udeid airbase now serves as a logistics, command and basing hub for U.S. operations in Afghanistan."

2003: A new constitution is approved that gives women the right to vote and run for national office. The plan was to allows citizens to election two-thirds of the 45-member Advisory Council, but those elections have yet to scheduled.

2013: Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani hands the reigns over to his son Tamim bin Hamad, marking the first "voluntary and planned" transition of power in the country's history.

March 2014: Saudia Arabia, which shares Qatar's only land border, recalled its ambassador to Qatar as did Bahrain and the Untied Arab Emirates (UAE). The Economist reports that frustration with Qatar from surrounding Arab monarchies grew during the 2011 Arab Spring and resulting events, "because Qatar has doggedly and generously backed the re-emergent Muslim Brotherhood in every ensuing contest, from Libya and Tunisia to Egypt and Syria. The Saudis, and perhaps even more so the UAE, have long viewed the Brotherhood as a subversive cult whose pan-Islamic ideology and secretive, cell-like structure post a singular danger."

"Since the outbreak of regional unrest," reported the Central Intelligence Agency, "Doha has prided itself on its support for many of these popular revolutions, particularly in Libya and Syria."

In a joint statement Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE accused Qatar of violating a pledge by meddling in their internal affairs.

The Economist reports Saudia Arabia has never much liked Qatar's "noisy Al Jazeera" and the "emirate's openness to Arab political dissenters (except from within the emirate itself)."

Perhaps that sentiment is shared in Egypt, where three Al Jazeera English reporters are on trial, accused of spreading "false news."

2014: Scandal erupts over Qatar's winning bid to host the World Cup in 2022 that would make Qatar the first Middle Eastern country to host the month-long international soccer competition. Fifa's decision to select Qatar struct some as odd given that summer temperatures can often exceed 115 degrees. There are also issues pertaining to the country's decency laws and limited access to alcohol. Then The Sunday Times dropped a bombshell that put Qatar's ability to hold onto to the title of 2022 World Cup host country into question. The British newspaper reports that leaked emails and other documents show the country's top soccer official paid $5 million to Fifa officials to secure the winning bid. Fifa's lead investigator is attorney Michael Garcia, a partner at the Kirkland & Ellis global law firm and former U.S. attorney. His report into allegations of corruption and bribery in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids is expected to be delivered to Fifa officials in the coming weeks.

Qatari officials have insisted they did nothing wrong and told the Qatar Tribune that they were confident Qatar will retain the rights to host the 2022 World Cup.

2014: The Obama administration comes under fire for a prisoner swap deal which released five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar. In return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American prisoner of war in Afghanistan, five Taliban leaders were released to Qatari officials. Some believe their stay in the richest country in the world will be too comfy, with too much access to other extremists thought to be laying low in Doha to include members of Hamas.