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Kingdom of Hasa

مملكة الأحساء
Mamlakat al'ahsa'
Flag of Hasa
Coat of arms of Hasa
Coat of arms
Anthem: Ode to the Country
Location of Hasa (highlighted green)
Location of Hasa (highlighted green)
Capital Qatif
Largest city Dammam-Dhahran-Khobar metropolitan area
Official languages Arabic
Ethnic groups
92% Arab
5% Afro Asian
1.3% Persian
1.7% other
Demonym(s) Hasawi
Government Unitary Constitutional Monarchy
• King
Khalid Shahab al-Shabib
• Prime Minster
Mohammad al-Shawkati
• Chief Justice
Kamal al-Atwen
Legislature Majlis
• Conquest of Hasa by al-Muntafiqi
• Kingdom of Hasa
18th June 1962
• 2019 estimate
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
• Total
$395.802 billion (33rd)
Gini (2014) 46.6
HDI (2014) 0.741
Currency Hasawi riyal (HSR)
Time zone UTC+3 (AST)
Driving side right
Calling code +947
Internet TLD .hs, .كيو تي

Hasa (Arabic: الأحساء; Hasa) officially referred to as the Kingdom of Hasa (مملكة الأحساء) is a country in the Middle East located on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula boarding the Persian Gulf to the east, Iraq to the north and Arabia to the south and west. It also shares maritime boarders with Iran. Hasa is a constitutional monarchy. The capital is Qatif City (Al-Qal'ah), located on the eastern coast, and is the home to some of the largest petroleum deposits in the world.

The first state of Hasa was established as the Shia ruled Emirate of Hasa around the 1729 after gaining status as a protectorate under the Ottoman Empire, with its rulers being descendants of the Qarmatians. The early state of Hasa was almost constantly at war with Sunni Muslims within its borders, becoming a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. In 1961, after a failed military coup, Hasawi became a Kingdom and a constitutional monarchy.

Hasa has a population of 8,618,767 with 90% being made up of Arabs, and most of the population being concentrated on the eastern coast of the country. Hasa has emerged as one of the Middle East's most stable economies following economic reform in the 1990s, as well as having some of the best women's rights in the region. Despite this, lingering fear of economic domination by neighbors has been a recurring topic. Hasa's large, untapped oil deposits has made it increasingly prominent on a world stage, although not to the extent of its neighbour Arabia.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

Hasa comes from the world Al-Hasa, and is a plural word of "Al-Ḥisā" (Arabic: ٱلْحِسَى‎) which refers to the accumulated sand with an impermeable layer underneath. Thus, when rain comes down, the water will soak through the sand, protected from evaporation by the sand, and be retained by the base layer, forming an aquifer. Hence, the site would become when drilled like a sweet cold spring. Although Hofuf, formerly called Hasa, was no longer the capital, it remained the name for the region.

History[edit | edit source]

Main article: History of Hasa

Ancient History[edit | edit source]

Human life in the region that comprises of modern day Hasa can be traced back to 18,000BC, and is usually referred to as Eastern Arabia. Prominent pre-Islamic civilisations within the region include the Dilmun and the Gerrha. The Eastern Coast became a vibrant trading hub from Arabia to India and China, with the cities of Qatif and Al-Tuwaiq becoming especially prosperous.

Eastern Arabia soon housed various peoples of different religions, ethnicities, and cultures including Persian Zoroastrians, Arab Christians and Jews. The people of Eastern Arabia were based around maritime trade with common goods including spices, cloths, slaves and weapons. Most people lived within city states along the coast, whilst those further inland lived nomadic lifestyles.

In 250AD the Iranian Parthian Empire successfully conquered much of the Eastern coastline of the Arabian peninsula, including the territory of modern day Hasa. The Parthian Empires successor, the Sasanian Empire. The Persians controlled the region until the rise of Islam in the 7th century, although in practice the city states of Eastern Arabia functioned in much of the same manner prior to the Persian conquest.

The spread of Islam following Muhammad's acquisitions of Medina and Mecca reached Eastern Arabia around 629AD after Muhammad's advisor Al-Ala'a Al-Hadrami travelled there with the intent of preaching the word of Allah to Eastern Arabians. Eastern Arabians were quick to embrace Islam, although this did not stop the vibrant trade relations between Eastern Arabians and the rest of the world. Eastern Arabia became especially prosperous when Baghdad was established as the seat of caliph in 750AD, which also saw the city states of Eastern Arabia become some of the centre points for Islamic scholarship.

Qarmatians[edit | edit source]

Eastern Arabia had always been a haven for Shiites from within the Muslim world, with some forming secret resistance groups to the dominant Sunnis. Around 750AD the Shia sect of Islam named Isma‘ilism had become dominant in Bahrin and Eastern Arabia. It was here that the dissident group named the Qarmatians gained power. In 899AD the Qarmatians led by Abu Said al-Jannabi founded a utopian state in Eastern Arabia and Bahrin. This event, known as the Qarmatian revolution, shocked the central Islamic leadership Baghdad who were unable to halt the Qarmatians as they had become preoccupied in stopping the fragmentation of the caliphate in North Africa.

The Qarmatians became infamous for their attack of the city of Mecca

The territory controlled by the Qarmatians was among the wealthiest in the Middle East thanks to the lucrative slave trade in the region, with slaves from Ethiopia cultivating the sparse but prosperous farmland in their territories. The Qarmatians impressive military might also allowed them to have neighbouring vassal city states pay tithes to them. With the exception of the practice of slavery the Qarmatian society was largely egalitarian with a ruling council sharing power as "first among equals". The Qarmatians economic prosperity enabled them not to tax their citizens, whom they shared wealth out to in what was deemed in fair wages and those in debt could take out loans which had no interest. Some modern historians often state that the Qarmatians established possibly the longest surviving proto-communist state.

Despite these achievements the Qarmatians soon became infamous from within the Muslim world, declaring the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca) to be a superstition. In 930AD Qarmatian leader Abu Taher Sulayman ordered an attack on Mecca, where pilgrims and Meccans alike were killed by the Qarmatian advance. The Qarmatians then took the Kaaba and moved it from its scared place in Mecca to the Qarmatian capital in Hassa, angering the Muslim world. Despite this other Muslims were afraid to attack the Qarmatians who by that point had established themselves as being the most powerful force in the Arabian peninsula. The Qarmatian zeal within their own territories strengthened after the prophesied divine intervention failed to materialise.

In 976AD the Qarmatians encountered a series of humiliating defeats at the hands of the Abbasid Caliphate in which they began to lose their vassal states that paid tribute to them. Qarmatian influence began to become more and more localised as the state was gradually cut off leaving them economically weak. In 1058AD Bahrin became free from Qarmatian control, as did much of the territory comprising of modern day Hasa shortly afterwards. In 1067AD the last major Qarmatian stronghold in Hoffuf was taken over by the forces of Abdullah bin Ali Al-Uyuni, effectively ending the Qarmatian movement.

Middle Ages[edit | edit source]

After the collapse of the Qarmatians the Uyunid dynasty took over Eastern Arabia including the island of Bahrain and the city of Hasa. Historians debate on whether the Uyunids were Shiites or Sunnis - if they were the former it is likely they introduced Twelver Shia Islam to the region. In 1253 the Usfurids - a dynasty that originated from the Banu Uqayl tribe of the Banu 'Amir confederation overthrew the Uyunids, having previously being an ally to both the Qarmatians and the Uyunids. The Usfurids had an unstable relationship with another regional power, that being the Persian prince in control of the Kingdom of Ormus. In 1320 Ormus took Hasa and Bahrain, but failed to permanently occupy them causing the Ormus and the Usfurids to periodically fight over control of the territory. Often in these conflicts the Ormus did not rule the territory directly instead giving control to the vassal Jarwanid dynasty which ruled from Hasa. The Jarwanids were largely considered to be made up of the remnants of the Qarmatians, being largely ruled by Isma'ilis. Despite this unlike the Qarmatians the Jarwanids reinstated worship in mosques as well as advocate Twelver Shia Islam alongside Isma'ilism.

In the 15th century the Jabrid dynasty, another branch of the Banu 'Amir confederation, took over Eastern Arabia from the Usfurids, Ormus and Jarwanids. The Jabrids took over the entire coastline of the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf, as well as launch attacks on Central Arabia and Oman. The greatest expansion of the Jabrid dynasty was under Sultan Ajwad ibn Zamil, whose death in 1507 saw the kingdom divided between his sons with Muqrin ibn Zamil taking over Hasa, al-Hasa and Bahrain. Soon Bahrain was taken under the control of the Portuguese in 1521, with the Jabrid dynasty falling to the Al-Muntafiq and later the Ottoman Turks.

Ottoman rule[edit | edit source]

In 1566 Eastern Arabia came under the control of the Ottoman Empire when it was ruled by Sultan Murad III, becoming the Lahsa Eyalet of the Ottomans adopting much of their laws and customs. Although Eastern Arabia was officially a Eyalet paying large tithes to the Ottomans and adopting some of the Ottoman laws it functioned more as an independent state that was presided over by a governor from Anatolia.

Ottoman culture was enforced in the region, but much of the population remained Shiite with their being active resistance to the Ottomans. In 1670 the Bani Khalid overthrew the Ottomans in the region establishing an emirate. In 1729 however, a Muntafiq Shia tribe supported by the Ottomans invaded Hasa, overthrew the Emirate of Bani Khalid, creating the Emirate of Hasa, a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire.

Emirate[edit | edit source]

Main article - Emirate of Hasa

The expansion of the Emirate of Diriyah saw the Emirate embark on the fast modernisation of its military forces, as a precaution to defend itself from Wahhabi forces. In 1786 Hasa with the support of the Ottomans was able to resist the majority of attacks made by the Saudis, with the Saudis unable to take any territory on the Eastern Coast north of Qatar. After the Ottoman–Wahhabi War Wahhabist influence in Hasa was purged as Twelver Shia Islam was promoted instead. The emergence of the Emirate of Nejd saw Hasa fight off Saudi forces from occupying Eastern Arabia, with the Sultanate retaining control partly due to Hasawi superior weapons and training to the Saudis. The Saudis abandoned their plans for conquest around 1919 due to continued military failure and to concentrate on their own civil war.

The modernisation efforts undertaken by the Shabib dynasty saw the building of roadways, shipyards and greater infrastructure in the main cities of Al-Qal'ah and Al-Qatif. There was also the establishment of an official governing body known as the Majlis, a group of Twelver scholars who advised the Emir on governmental matters - previously the Sultan had officially ruled alone. In 1889 plans for a rail road to run from Damascus to Al-Qal'ah were formulated, with construction beginning that year. In 1913 forces from the House of Saud tried to capture Al-Qatif and Al-Qal'ah, but were pushed by Hasawi forces.

Hasawi forces had become embroiled in a conflict with the Emirate of Nejd which was led by Emir Ibn Saud since 1911. Two events shaped the Hasawi outcome for the conflict - the Arab Revolt in 1922 and the rise of the Al-Sadr in Iraq. In 1919, the Najdi king called off further attacks on Hasa, fearful of the new al-Sadr trying to aid the Hasawi state. In response the Emir Abdul Salam al-Shabib ended the centuries old pact with the Ottoman Empire and requested British protection. In 1924 Hasa's status as a protectorate ended after the signing of the Al-Ahsa Proclamation. In 1928, Iraq and Hasawi forces joined forces during the war against Arabia.

Hasa was one of the least developed nations on the planet at this time, with much of the population being illiterate and without basic healthcare needs, with many still living in tribes. Several tribal revolts occurred in the 1920's, all of which were suppressed by the Emir, whose conservative government refused to seriously modernise the country. In 1934 Britain undertook an expedition into Hasa with the intention of finding oil - previously Hasa had based its economy on limited livestock and agricultural exports. The Eastern most regions of Hasa saw the discovery of large amounts of oil reserves, resulting in the creation of the Anglo-Hasawi Oil Corporation (AHOC).

In 1961, the United Kingdom and Iraq help defeat an attempted nationalist and republican coup against Hasa, believed to be ordered by socialist nations abroad as a plan to control the oil reserves of Hasa. The Emir Jaafar Salam al-Shabib then announced a sweeping set of reforms designed to prevent both communist and hardline Islamist influence and yet address the economic and social difficulties the country faced.

Modern Day[edit | edit source]

In 1974, King Jaafar Salam al-Shabib initiated an industrialization plan for Hasa, using Hasawi talents. A modern school program, already initated in 1967, produced a cadre of technicians. The Hasawi government also created the second automotive base in the Middle East after Egypt, and using foreign designers, built Khaleeji Motors, the most successful Arab automobile manufacturer.

However, there are marked periods of labor unrest, as Hasawi workers protested long working conditions while their neighbors don't have to work. In response in 1985, King Jaafar Salam al-Shabib allowed foreign workers to take over most of the menial positions. A welfare plan was instituted, although conscription for the military forces was imposed for able-bodied Hasawi males in 1985. By 1990, Hasa was considered only second to Arabia for having a developed and well-rounded economic system in the Arabian peninsula.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Governorates[edit | edit source]

Hasa is divided into 7 governorates, each of which has its own local government and capital. The governorates are further divided into counties, which are then divided into settlements. The governonates were created in 1961 to reflect the population at the time. As such now there are some governorates (such as the Dammam-Khobar-Dhahran and Al-Hasa governorates) that far outstrip in the others in terms of population. Since then there have been calls to change the governorate borders to reflect the current population.

No. Province Capital Population
1 Western Governorate Sihmah 293,361
2 Khafji Khafji 65,000
3 As Saffaniyah Al-Tuwaiq 509,634
4 Ras Al Khair Al Jubail 378,949
5 Dammam-Khobar-Dhahran Dammam 5,065,007
6 Capital Governorate Qatif 524,182
7 Al Hasa Al Hofuf 1,782,634

Government and politics[edit | edit source]

The 1962 Constitution of Hasa, which has amended many times, serves as the supreme law of Hasa, with its most modern incarnation defining the nation as an "unitary, fully sovereign, constitutional monarchy. In practice Hasa functions as a semi-absolutist monarchy. The King of Hasa functions as the head of state, while the Prime Minister is head of government, leading the Majlis-al-Umma (National Assembly) which forms the legislature as well as the Cabinet, the official executive branch of government. Despite democratic elections having been held from 2012 Freedom House has called the Hasawi government "Partly Free". Hasa was formally described as a majoritarian democracy were there are frequent elections, but with little opposition to the ruling party.

The legislature of Hasa, the National Assembly, is composed of 120 legislators, with the Prime Minister and cabinet being selected by the King. While it has more liberal electoral process, it was accused to be favoring the Shia political parties in expense of the Sunni parties. Communists, especially Landonists, are banned due to "rejection of religion". The head of the largest party in National Assembly is usually appointed as Prime Minister.

Human Rights[edit | edit source]

Main article - Human Rights of Hasa

Hasa has been criticised for excessive human rights violations over its existence. Hasa's constitution states that people have freedom of religion, the press, political participation, speech and protest, although in practice these rights are not consistently respected, as Islam is also declared the national religion of the country.

The previous Emirs of Hasa governed according to Islamic law. Dissent against the Emir was punished through the judicial system. The nascent press was limited and censored, labour unions and numerous political organisations were banned and freedom of speech was not respected. Protests were dealt with police and military force, with the secret police torturing political dissidents and denying the right to a free trial. Women had very little rights, as did people who are not Muslims. LGBT+ persons similarly had no rights, and ethnic minorities faced persecution. Slavery was also common.

In 1961 the Hasawi Intelligence Directorate (IMH) was reorganized. The IMH were granted wide ranging powers that enabled them to bypass judicial functions and arrest those without charge. Freedom of the press was denied with the state controlling all forms of media, and labour unions were absorbed into the ruling bureaucracy being controlled through the Hasawi royal family and associates with collective barging rights ignored; torture and executions were sanctioned by the state with prison camps made specifically to house political prisoners being set up. The new government however did give women legal equal rights to men as did people of other faiths and ethnic backgrounds. Homosexuality remained as to this day, illegal, but they are no longer actively punished by death. Slavery was criminalised in the 1962 Penal Code, with slavery being clamped down upon by the authorities.

Following the 1980s human rights in Hasa were much better - however international human rights groups still criticized Hasa for human rights violations. Press freedom and the right for political protest were still suppressed as were labour union rights and freedom of expression. Women also saw some their rights taken away from them as Sharia law was introduced into the legal system. There were still reports of torture, and harassment against LGBT groups.

Foreign Relations[edit | edit source]

Main article - Foreign relations of Hasa

Since the modern period Hasa has endeavoured to pursue a balanced, neutral foreign policy as well as be an active player in the Arab world. Hasa is a member of large international organisations. Hasa's large deposits of petroleum have enabled it to become an influential member of OPEC.

Military[edit | edit source]

The Royal Hasawi Armed Forces maintain a small but well-equipped military, numbering 80,000. It is composed of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. Military conscription is compulsory for Hasawi males. Currently, the RHAF is fighting alongside Hashemite Arabia in the Yemeni Civil War.

Economy[edit | edit source]

Hasa has a mixed economy with the government exerting varying degrees of control over certain industries. The petroleum sector for example is centrally planned and completely under state control through the Hasawi Oil Corporation, whilst the banking sector has in comparison been deregulated. The national currency of Hasa is the Hasawi Rial which is regulated at the Hasawi Central Bank.

Energy[edit | edit source]

Hasa has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, with oil extraction managed through the state owned Hasawi Oil Corporation. Hasa has been labelled an energy superpower due to their vast amounts of oil, with petroleum making up 41% of Hasa's total nominal GDP value.

While the country depends mainly on petroleum and natural gas as its source of energy, it is trying to diversify its energy source by using solar power facilities in the country. By 2020, Hasa build its first nuclear power plant, and the government reiterated its non-military use.

Shipbuilding[edit | edit source]

Hasa also used its maritime heritage to build up its shipbuilding industry. Its Jubail shipyard is currently the largest in the world. Its already robust industrial facilities were always in the disposal of major shipping companies. Hasa concentrates on building oil tankers and container ships.

Tourism[edit | edit source]

Hasa's political and economic stability has enabled the Hasawi tourism industry to boom. The majority of tourists are from Central Asia, Iran, South Asia and Eastern Europe. Many go to Hasa to visit the al-Q'aiam Mosque or the historic city of Hofuf and Qatif.

Demographics[edit | edit source]

As of 2014 Hasa has an estimated population of 8,618,767 people. The majority of people in Hasa are Arab with there being significant Afro Asian and Persian minorities. Most people follow Shia Islam with the second biggest religion being Sunni Islam. Most of the population live in the urbanised areas near the coast, with those further inland often either being members of nomadic tribes or live in small rural villages. 41% of the population are under the age of 25, with only 23% over the age of 65. Hasa's total fertility rate has decreased in recent years, rising from 3.12 to 2.12 between 2011 to 2014, with the figure expected to plummet by 1.4 percent by 2018.

Ethnic groups[edit | edit source]

Of that 8,618,767 people around 92% of them are estimated to be Arabs, with 81% of that number native Hasawi. The largest ethnic minority in Hasa are Afro Asians who consist of 5% of the population. The second largest minority is Persians who constitute 1.3% of the total population. Other ethnic minorities in Hasa include South Asians, Tondolese, Anatolians, Nepalese, Europeans and Jews.

Religion[edit | edit source]

Hasa is officially a secular country with freedom of religion although the constitution recognises Shia Islam as the traditional religion of the country. The majority of the population (97%) are Muslim with 84% being Shiites and 13% being Sunnis. 1.4% of the population are Christian with the remaining 1.6% being made up of Hindus, Zoroastrians, the irreligious and Jews. Official government policy is that each religion must keep out of the affairs of the other, although in practice discrimination towards Christians especially to those who convert from Islam to Christianity is widespread.

Hasa is the only monarchy in the world where the majority of the population follow the Twelver branch of Shia Islam with the majority professing allegiance to the Usuli sect. Around 72.4% of the population follow the Twelver sect while 11.6% follow Ismaili sect. Sunni Muslims in Hasa mainly follow Malikism, possibly stemming from their close proximity with Hashemite Arabia. Religious divisions are high, with the Shiites mainly concentrated in the affluent, urban and developed areas of Hasa and the Sunnis in the west. There is also tension between the Twelvers and the Ismailis who still wield a disproportionate amount of power.

Secularisation among Muslim communities have provoked extremely mixed reactions. Initially measures were extremely harsh with the hijab banned completely and for religion to be praticed only in private. In 1966 these measures were somewhat relaxed although the niqāb and the burqa remain illegal, with the wearing of the abaya being restricted in government and education. The prevalence of the hijab in Hasa is similar to that of Egypt and Turkey with most women in Hasa wearing the hijab, although recent studies show that this is out of choice, not obligation to family members.

Language[edit | edit source]

Arabic is the official language of Hasa with over 95% of the populace speaking it as their first language. The Gulf Arabic dialect is primarily spoken in Hasawi communities, and Hasawi Sign language (which is part of the Arab sign-language family) is used for the deaf. Prior to education reform in 1998, the learning of other languages outside of Arabic was not encouraged. However since then English has been taught to all Hasawi children, and many others have now learnt the language to increase the ease of trade in Hasa.

The Iranian minority in Hasa mainly speak Persian, whilst the Turkish, Pakistani and Nepalese communities speak Turkish, Urdu and Nepali respectively. Hasawi custom expects immigrants to learn basic Arabic alongside their own language.

Transport[edit | edit source]

Hasa has a well-developed transport network, with at least 4 ports, a railway for cargo, and three airports, one of them, the King Jaafar International Airport being the largest airport in size. Airhasa is the flag carrier of the country and is considered one of the world's leading airlines, behind Arabia's Royal Arabian Airlines and Iraq's Iraqi Airways.

Culture[edit | edit source]

Hasawi culture has been primarily influenced by a mix of Arab Culture and Twelver Shia Islam along with elements from Persian, Ottoman and British culture. Hasa has always prided itself for its role in the Arab world as well as its Shia traditions and history. Some commentators have noted partly due to this mix along with the modernization efforts made by the government that Hasa is more open then its much more conservative neighbours Arabia, Iraq, and the Trucial States. Whilst compared to Western culture Hasa is socially conservative it is less so then other Arab countries, with an emphasis on family, education, religion, respect and law.

Music[edit | edit source]

Hasawi music is similar to that of its neighbors. Khaliji music is a focal point for the modern Hasawi music industry and is considered the leader in the Middle East region.

See also[edit | edit source]