Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Arabian Peninsula, 1600–1800 A.D.

Arabian Peninsula, including the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina
Ottoman rule, 1517–1635
Various Arab tribes, 1635–1746
Yacrubid imams, Oman, 1650–1749
Al-Bu-Sacid dynasty, Oman, from 1749
Ottoman rule, 1517–1635
Zaydi imams, from 1635


Encompasses present-day Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen

The Ottomans occupy Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula at the beginning of this period. As in all of their provinces, their presence is minimal outside of the major cities. After the 1600 chartering of the East India Company, the British start to compete with Dutch, Portuguese, and French concerns for control of the lucrative Persian Gulf trade, but the region itself does not benefit from this boon as European traders have found sea routes to circumvent the overland transport of goods through Arabia. Ottoman control of Yemen ends in 1635, and the Shici Zaydi imams return to power at Sanca. In Oman, the al-Bu-Sacid clan takes Muscat as their capital, and in Saudi Arabia the present line of kings—the al-Sacud dynasty—is established in 1746.

    • 1635 The Zaydi imams, who had controlled Yemen in the twelfth century, reassert themselves after the Ottoman departure. They survive a second Ottoman occupation of Sanca in the late nineteenth century and continue to rule today.

    • 1650 Sultan bin Saif al-Yacrubi wins Muscat from the Portuguese, who have occupied the trading port for over 150 years. The Yacrubid imams rule in Oman until 1749.

    • 1663 The Ottoman governor of al-Hasa in the Arabian Peninsula is overthrown. Control of the region reverts to Bedouin chiefs.

    • 18th century A reform movement headed by Muhammad ibn cAbd al-Wahhab (d. 1791) of Najd takes hold in the Arabian Peninsula. This movement stresses the unity of God above all else and holds that the popular faith should be cleansed of all innovations such as the veneration of holy sites and saints.

    • 1741 Muhammad ibn cAbd-al-Wahhab concludes an alliance with local ruler Muhammad ibn Sacud, and out of this military power the present line of Sacudi kings is born. Their allied forces soon conquer the region and launch raids into Iraq, where they feel a heretical form of Islam is practiced.

    • 1749 Ahmad ibn Sacid (r. 1749–83) begins his career as governor of Suhar in Oman, but soon takes over neighboring cities. His successors supplant the Yacrubids in Muscat, and then expand to Bahrain, cities on the southern Persian coast, and ports in East Africa.

    • 1798 The al-Bu-Sacids counter the threat of the Wahhabis of Najd by signing a treaty with the British East India Company. The company later stations agents at Muscat.