History Files


Middle East Kingdoms

Arabic States




Hashemite Mecca & Hijaz

The prophet Muhammed was born in Mecca around 570 and went on to found the Islamic empire in the seventh century. The focus of the empire shifted away from Mecca towards Baghdad, but it was used as the base for Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr's opposition to the Umayyads. In the tenth century, by agreement, Mecca and Medina came under the control of the sharif of Mecca, while much of the rest of Arabia reverted to a nomadic tribal existence until it was largely unified in 1744. The Hashemites gained the position of sharif in 1201, and retained it thereafter, although they were subservient to various overlords.

The Hashemites claim descent from Ali ibn Abi Talib (Rashidun caliph in 656-661) and his wife, Fatima, daughter of Muhammed. Their base was in the Hijaz region of Arabia, along the Red Sea coast, which was mostly seized by the Al-Saud family in 1932. During the seventh century, the Hashemites and the Umayyads, separate clans of the same Quraish tribe, vied for control of the Islamic empire, but it was the latter who won that struggle.

Sharifs of Mecca
AD 967 - 1629

From AD 909, the Fatamids in today's Tunisia began establishing the Shiite (Sevener) caliphate in North Africa to rival the Orthodox Abbasid caliphate. Eventually they secured Mecca itself, during a period in which the Islamic provinces were experiencing a period of instability. The sharifs were given command shortly after the city was attacked and sacked by a Muslim sect known as the Qarmatians, led by Abu-Tahir Al-Jannabi in 930. Power thereafter remained in North Africa until the rise of the Ottoman empire, and from 1517 Mecca, along with the entire region, was under their overlordship.

967 - 980

Muhammed Abu-Jafar Al-Thalab (The Fox)

First sharif under the Fatamids.


Islamic Antioch in Syria is lost to the Byzantine empire, taken by Michael Bourtzes and Peter the Eunuch on behalf of Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas. In the same year the Fatamids occupy Egypt and gain much of Syria along with it.

Mecca and the Great Mosque
Mecca and the Great Mosque, illustrating the long queues of pilgrims entering it, a scene that is repeated every year even in the modern age

980 - 994

Sharif Essa

994 - 1039

Sharif Abu Al-Futooh

1039 - 1061

Sharif Shukrul-Din

1061 - 1094

Abul-Hashim ibn Muhammed

1094 - 1101

Ibn Abul-Hashim Al-Thalab


There is a gap in the known list of sharifs of Mecca which lasts for about a century. The rise of the Ayyubids in Egypt from 1174 eventually restores the situation to normal. Al-Malik al-Adil I manages to acquire territory between his sultanate in Damascus and in Mesopotamia, before he also overthrows al-Mansur in 1200 and rules in Egypt too. The Hashemite dynasty is subsequently introduced as hereditary sharifs of the city.

1201 - 1220

Qatada ibn Idris al-Alawi al-Hasani

Killed at the age of 90 by Ibn Qatada Al-Hashimi.

1220 - 1241

Ibn Qatada Al-Hashimi


1241 - 1254

Al-Hassan abul-Saad

1250 - 1252

In 1250, Shajar ad Durr seizes the Ayyubid sultanate with the support of her Mameluke slave-soldiers, led by Aybak. Eighty days later, she marries Aybak in order to secure the full support of her subjects, before abdicating in her husband's favour, passing all control of the sultanate over to him. The Abbasids still hold the title of caliph and hold court at Cairo, but they are weak and are soon to become puppets of the Mamelukes.

1254 - 1301

Muhammed abul-Nubaj


Al Ashraf II, the last of the Ayyubid sultans, is removed from his position as figurehead, and the Mameluke leader Aybak takes full control of Egypt.

1301 - 1346

Rumaitha Abul-Rada

1346 - 1375

Aljan Abul-Sarjah

1394 - 1425

Al-Hassan II

1425 - 1455

Barakat I

1455 - 1497

Malik ul-Adil Muhammad (III) ibn Barakat

Son. Served from Aug 1455.

1497 - 1525

Barakat (II) ibn Muhammad


1515 - 1517

The Ottoman sultan begins a war against Egypt which ultimately sees the latter conquered. Sultan Qansawh II al Ghawri is killed on 24 August 1515 at the Battle of Merj Dabik. Syria is immediately captured.


Cairo, along with the rest of Egypt and Libya, is conquered by Ottoman empire under Selim I Yavuz. Mecca is part of the Ottoman empire from August of this year and the sharif is nominally subservient to the sultan, although in reality he is largely autonomous.

1525 - 1583

Muhammad Abu Numay (II) Nazim ud-din


1583 - 1601

Al-Hasan (III) ibn Muhammad Abu Numay


1601 - 1610

Idris (II) Abu 'Aun ibn Hasan


1610 - 1628

Muhsin (I) ibn Hussein

Son of Hussein.

1628 - 1629

Ahmad ibn Abu Talib al-Hasan

Son of Hasan.

Grand Sharifs of Mecca
AD 1629 - 1803

The first grand sharif was Masud I. This was a period of Ottoman domination from Turkey, but the eighteenth century saw that domination begin to weaken as the empire stagnated. As long as taxes were collected and paid on time, and the peace was maintained, the sultans in Constantinople were happy not to interfere. Regional leaders and governors began to assert themselves, most notably the Al-Saudi in eastern Arabia.

1629 - 1630

Masud (I) ibn Idris

Son of Idris (1601-1610).

1630 - 1631

Abdullah (I) ibn Hasan

Son of Hasan (1583-1601).


The Ottoman empire is still the most powerful state in the region both in wealth and military capability. The personal style of government, however, cultivated among the earlier sultans has vanished. In place of sultanic government, the bureaucracy pretty much runs the show, and cracks begin to appear in the empire's unity during this century.

The Ka'ba
The Ka'ba inside the Great Mosque at Mecca

1631 - 1666

Zeid ibn Muhsin


The Ottoman governor of Egypt, Khalil Pasha, sends out an expeditionary force to the Hejaz to retake Mecca from Yemani tribesmen. Under Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad, the Yemenis are fighting the Ottomans to create an independent Zaidi state in Yemen.

1666 - 1672

Saad ibn Zeid


1669 - 1671

Ahmad ibn Zeid

Brother. Governed jointly.

1667 - 1668

Muhsin ibn Ahmad

Son. Governed jointly.


Hamud ibn Abdullah ibn Hasan

Son of Abdullah I. Governed jointly.

1672 - 1682

Barakat (III) ibn Muhammad


Ibrahim ibn Muhammad


1682 - 1683

Said (I) ibn Barakat

Son of Barakat III.

1684 - 1688

Ahmad ibn Zeid

Son of Zeid (1666-1672). Second term of office.

1688 - 1690

Ahmad ibn Ghalib

1689 - 1690

Muhsin ibn Ahmad

Son. Second term of office.

1690 - 1691

Muhsin (II) ibn Hussein

1691 - 1694

Said (II) ibn Saad

1693 - 1694

Saad ibn Zeid

Second term of office.


Abdullah (II) ibn Hashim

1694 - 1702

Saad ibn Zeid

Third term of office.

1702 - 1704

Said (II) ibn Saad

Second term of office.


Abdul Muhsin ibn Ahmad

1704 - 1705

Abdul Karim ibn Muhammad


Said (II) ibn Saad

Third term of office.

1705 - 1711

Abdul Karim ibn Muhammad

Second term of office.

1711 - 1717

Said (II) ibn Saad

Fourth term of office.

1717 - 1718

Abdullah (III) ibn Said


Ali ibn Said

Son of Said III.

1718 - 1719

Yahya (I) ibn Barakat

1720 - 1722

Mubarak ibn Ahmad

1722 - 1723

Barakat ibn Yahya

Son of Yahya.

1723 - 1724

Mubarak ibn Ahmad

Second term of office.

1724 - 1731

Abdullah (III) ibn Said

Second term of office.

1731 - 1732

Muhammad ibn Abdullah


1732 - 1733

Masud ibn Said

1733 - 1734

Muhammad ibn Abdullah

Second term of office.

1734 - 1752

Masud ibn Said

Second term of office.

1752 - 1759

Masaad ibn Said (II)


1759 - 1760

Jaafar ibn Said


1760 - 1770

Masaad ibn Said (II)

Second term of office.


Ahmad ibn Said


1770 - 1773

Abdullah (IV) ibn Hussein

1773 - 1788

Surur ibn Masaad


Abdul Muin ibn Masaad


1788 - 1803

Ghalib ibn Masaad



Mecca and its surrounding region is captured by the First Saudi State which swiftly expands to take in most of the territory that today forms Saudi Arabia.

Emirs & Grand Sharifs of Mecca
AD 1803 - 1917

Mecca was under Ottoman governors from Egypt from 1819 until 1840 while the city was under occupation. As pashas of Mecca, the representatives of Ottoman control, the grand sharifs were also able to claim the title of emir of Mecca, increasing in power until 1916, when Sharif Husayn rebelled.

1803 - 1827

Yahya (II) ibn Surur

1818 - 1822

Unable to spare forces to retake Makkah and Madinah in the Hijaz themselves, the Ottomans send Muhammed Ali Pasha, viceroy of Egypt to destroy the Saudi state. He does so in a merciless campaign which ends with the siege of Diriyya. Arabia is temporarily occupied by the pasha's forces. However, the garrisons in Arabia are unable to prevent the rise of a new Saudi state.


Abdul Mutalib ibn Ghalib

Aug to Sep only.

1827 - 1836

Muhammad ibn Abdul Muin

1836 - 1843

The position is vacant during the rise of the Second Saudi Sate. In 1838, Muhammed Ali of Egypt re-occupies Arabia to destroy the Saudis and restore order, but it takes until 1843 before that mission is fully achieved.

1840 - 1851

Muhammad ibn Abdul Muin

Second term of office.

1851 - 1856

Abdul Mutalib ibn Ghalib

Second term of office. Died 1886.

1856 - 1858

Muhammad ibn Abdul Muin

Third term of office.

1858 - 1877

Abdullah Kamil Pasha ibn Muhammad

1877 - 1880

Hussein ibn Muhammad

1880 - 1882

Abdul Mutalib ibn Ghalib

Third term of office.

1882 - 1905

Aun ar-Rafiq Pasha ibn Muhammad

1905 - 1908

Ali Pasha ibn Abdullah

1908 - 1916

Husayn / Hussein Pasha ibn Ali

Son. Commanded the Arab Revolt. King of Hijaz in 1916.


Ali Haidar Pasha

Ottoman sharif appointed to replace Husayn, unsuccessfully.


Husayn is opposed in Medina by Ali Haidar Pasha, the Ottoman-designated sharif to replace Husayn, ultimately unsuccessfully.

Kings of the Hijaz & Grand Sharifs of Mecca
AD 1916 - 1925

The Arab Revolt between 1916-1918 against the Ottoman empire was led by Husayn's eldest son, Faysal. Operations on the ground were commanded jointly by Sharif Ali, and British Army officer T E Lawrence. Lawrence managed to combine the power of several Arabic tribes to drive the Turks north in a series of campaigns in coordination with the British forces in the Middle East. Once the Arabs captured Damascus they secured a semblance of power (very well depicted in the feature film Lawrence of Arabia). In subsequent bargaining with the British who now controlled the region, Husayn claimed Arabia and Faysal became king of Greater Syria.

1916 - 1925


King. Final claimant of Islamic caliphate (1924-1925). Died 1931.


Britain assumes official governance of Palestine under the terms of its League of Nations mandate. At this time, Palestine encompasses not only modern Israel and the West Bank, but all of the Transjordan territory to the east of the river of the same name.

1923 - 1924

The Ottoman empire collapses and on 29 October 1923 a republic of Turkey is declared. On 1 November the newly founded parliament formally dissolves the sultanate, and in the same year British-administered Transjordan is separated from Palestine. On 1 March 1924, the caliphate is formally abolished, and two days later the title is claimed by Husayn. The claim is not met with universal support from fellow Arabs, especially the Al-Saud, who care nothing of it.

Arab Revolt 1916-1918
The Arab Revolt of 1916-1918 helped to destroy Ottoman hegemony over Arabia



Son of Husayn. King. Last grand sharif. Died 1934.


The Hashemites are overthrown in Arabia by Abdul Aziz, also known as Ibn Saud. Abdul Aziz declares himself king of the Hijaz in 1926. Hashemite rule to the north of Arabia continues with Husayn's sons, with Abdullah in Transjordan, and Faysal in Iraq. Husayn and Ali both find a new home in Transjordan, where Husayn continues to use the title of caliph without universal acceptance. The title is restored by the Islamic State in 2014.

Hashemite Transjordan
AD 1918 - 1946

The area of modern Jordan which lies on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea was, in the second and first millennia BC, part of the kingdoms of Edom and Moab. Successive empires then controlled the region, including those of Babylon, the Persians, and the Seleucid Greeks, before a period of fragmentation in which the Nabataeans and Kedarites flourished. Then Rome became the main authority, although inroads were made by the Parthians and Sassanids. The Byzantines lost the region to the Islamic empire in the seventh century and this, in turn, was taken over by the Ottoman empire. The Arab Revolt (led by the Hashemites) and the British campaign of 1916-1918 pushed them out, eventually paving the way for Arab independence following the conclusion of the Second World War.

1918 - 1922

Transjordan is controlled by the British military forces that had been instrumental in freeing all of Palestine of Ottoman control (the initial steps towards this control are shown in the feature film Lawrence of Arabia).

1921 - 1949

Abdullah I

Son of Husayn. Emir (1921-1946), and then first king of Jordan.


Britain assumes official governance of Palestine under the terms of its League of Nations mandate. At this time, Palestine encompasses not only modern Israel and the West Bank, but all of the Transjordan territory to the east of the river of the same name.


The Jordan state is created as a British protectorate to be governed by Abdullah, partly in reward for his agreement not to attack French-held Syria following their expulsion of his brother, Faysal in 1920.


On 7 July the British 'Peel Commission' recommends partitioning Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. Abdullah supports this as it means the Arab section will be incorporated into Transjordan. While the Jews accept the commission's findings reluctantly, the other Arabs states do not, and it is eventually dropped.


Following the conclusion of the Second World War, in which Jordan had remained a staunch ally of Britain, the British mandate for Transjordan comes to an end. The emirate's independence is announced on 25 May, as the 'Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan'.

Hashemite Kingdom of (the) Jordan
AD 1946 - Present Day

Modern Jordan is an important player in the region's politics, and is respected for its relative stability. With a capital at Amman in the north-west, the country is bordered to the east and south by Saudi Arabia, to the west by Israel and the Palestinian West Bank, to the north by Syria, and to the north-east by Iraq.

The region has a long history of human habitation, lying as it does on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean section of the Fertile Crescent. In the second and first millennia BC, it formed part of the kingdoms of Edom and Moab. Successive empires then controlled the region before a period of fragmentation in which the Nabataeans and Kedarites flourished. Then Rome and their successors, the Byzantines, held it before losing control to the Islamic empire in the seventh century. This, in turn, was succeeded by the Ottoman empire. The Great Arab Revolt and the British campaign of 1916-1918 pushed them out, eventually paving the way for Arab independence.

The kingdom of Jordan was founded on 25 May 1946, initially as the 'Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan', although the regional name was soon shortened, in 1949, to Jordan. The king rules as the head of a constitutional monarchy, albeit one with significant power in the hands of the king himself, something which led to limited protests during 2011. Modern Jordan is home to the descendants of so many Palestinian refugees that they actually outnumber the original population of East Bank Jordanians and, partially as a result of this, the country struggles to be economically and financially successful. It does, however, have the famed ruins of Petra within its borders as one of the world's biggest tourist-pullers.

1946 - 1951

Abdullah I

Founder, and former emir of Transjordan. Assassinated.

1948 - 1949

On the day following the proclamation of the creation of the state of Israel, the neighbouring Arab states of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria attack, prompting the start of the Arab-Israeli War. Saudi Arabia sends its own military contingent to support the Egyptians. The war lasts for a year before a ceasefire is agreed. The Green Line is established - temporary borders which can generally be agreed by all sides. Egypt gains the Gaza Strip while Jordan controls East Jerusalem and the West Bank region, but an estimated 700,000 Palestinians have been expelled or have fled their homeland, mostly to enter southern Lebanon or Jordan.

1948 - 1949

The British mandate for Palestine ends and the state of Israel is proclaimed by Jewish groups on 15 May 1948. The Arab Legion, the reserve force founded in 1923 which forms Jordan's army, enters Palestine and secures the annexation of the West Bank for Transjordan.


Abdullah is assassinated by a Palestinian who is fearful that the king will reach a separate peace agreement with Israel regarding the Arab-Israeli War of 1948-1949. The king's grandson, Hussein, is also shot at, but survives.

King Hussein
Hussein became king in 1952, steering the kingdom through difficult times in relations with Israel and during the extended the Palestinian troubles

1951 - 1952


Son. Abdicated due to health reasons. Died 1972.

1952 - 1999


Son. Born 1935. Pronounced clinically dead 05/02. d.07/02- cancer.


Amid ever-increasing tensions and acrimonious relations with Israel, Egypt expels the UN peacekeepers from the Sinai and announces a partial blockade of Israel's access to the Red Sea. Expecting further military action, several Arab states begin to mobilise their troops. Israel sees this as reason enough to launch a pre-emptive attack against Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, triggering the Yom Kippur War.

Jordan loses the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a third of the kingdom, while Israel also gains the Golan Heights and the ancient region of Bashan from Syria, and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, and also temporarily occupies the Sinai peninsula for a second time. Jordan is also overwhelmed by the numbers of Palestinian refugees which enter the country, significantly changing the balance of the population, which is now biased away from the outnumbered native Jordanians.

1999 - Present

Abdullah II

Son. Born 1962. Named crown prince on 25 January 1999.

1999 - 2004

Crown Prince Hamzah

Half-brother. Removed from the position by Abdullah.


A wave of popular protests against a deeply unpopular and dictatorial government forces the president of Tunisia to flee to Saudi Arabia, paving the way for fresh elections and a new start. The protests strike a chord in Arabs across North Africa and the Middle East, and similar protests are triggered in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Yemen. In Jordan, where freedom is much less restricted, protests are limited and poorly supported. However, when civil war is sparked in Syria, Jordan is forced to accept some 600,000 refugees.

Crown Prince Hussein

Son of Abdullah. Named crown prince on 2 July 2009.