Parents: Salman, hakim of Bahrain
Date of Birth: 3 June 1933
House: Al Khalifa
Spouse: Hessa bint Salman
Reign: 1971 – 1999
Predecessor: Salman bin Hamad
Summary: Isa lived through World War II and grew up in Bahrain during its time as a dependency of the British Empire. His father became hakim, or hereditary ruler, of Bahrain in 1942. Isa succeeded his father two decades later in 1961. In 1971, Isa secured Bahrain's independence from British control and he proclaimed himself emir.
When Bahrain became independent, other local oil states also gained their independence. Some of them formed the United Arab Emirates, a loose confederation of Arab states bound together by a single national constitution. Bahrain declined admission to the union, as did Qatar, over disagreements with the proposed constitution. Isa then introduced his own constitution to Bahrain that would establish a parliamentary democracy. Men were given the vote in the first elections, which were held in 1973. But two years later, Isa dissolved parliament because the assembly refused to support his laws. Parliament has been in an indefinite recess ever since with periodic protests and riots breaking out from the left and the conservative Islamic right. Despite the authoritarianism of the royal family, Isa's death in 1999 was viewed by both the United States government and the United Nations as a blow to regional stability. The emir was succeeded by his son, Hamad, who proclaimed himself king in 2002.
Date of Death: 6 March 1999