Family which has dominated Bahrain since the end of the 18th century. In the 19th century, the al-Khalifas struck a number of successive deals with Great Britain, and when Bahrain became independent in 1971, this allowed them to take formal political control of the country. Since then, the al-Khalifa family has kept a steel-hard grip on Bahrain.

At the command of Emir Isa ibn Salman al-Khalifa, the National Assembly of Bahrain, elected in 1973, was dismissed in 1975, and has not been reconvened since. From 1994 on, the al-Khalifa family has been under pressure, international and domestic, to allow greater political influence to the general populace of Bahrain.