Since its independence from Britain in the twentieth century, Qatar has emerged as one of the world's most important producers of oil and natural gas. It is an Islamic state whose laws and customs follow Islamic tradition. From 1995 until 2013, the country was governed by His Highness the Emir Father, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the eighth Emir from the Al-Thani family.
Under His Highness’s reign, governance in Qatar shifted significantly towards incorporating the participation of its citizens in government and institutionalizing the right of election, as opposed to direct appointment, to a number of government establishments. The electoral and nomination rights of women also gained increasing recognition.
In 2013, he was succeeded by his son, His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, as Emir of the State of Qatar and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.