Here's the rest of the ignominious group (following on from yesterday's post) with some impressively long-lasting figures.
11th - 11 years, 10 months in power Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa King of Bahrain An emirate wasn’t enough for Hamad al Khalifa, who designated his country a kingdom in 1999. The country has struggled for many years to cope with a disaffected Shia majority which is largely excluded from positions of power or influence. Hamad clamped down heavily on opposition Shia politicians in the run-up to last year’s parliamentary elections.
10th - 11 years, 11 months in power Abdullah II King of Jordan Succeeded his father King Hussein to the throne in February 1999. Since then he has proved fond of changing his prime minister and dissolving parliament. The latest occasion was on 1 February when he sacked Prime Minister Samir Rifai, apparently in reaction to a growing protest movement. Alongside Yemen, Jordan is many people’s favourite to follow Tunisia and Egypt in seeing a regime-shaking opposition movement filling its streets.
9th - 15 years, 7 months in power Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Emir of Qatar Like Sultan Qaboos in Oman 25 years earlier, Sheikh Hamad seized power by kicking out his father. Since then, he has presided over a rapidly modernising country, with massive government investment fuelled by some of the world’s largest gas reserves. Winning the right to host the World Cup in 2022 has put the country on the map for many people, and is bound to invite greater scrutiny.
8th - 21 years, 7 months in power Omar Bashir President of Sudan Seized power in a coup in 1993 and has since been roundly and rightly castigated for the brutal actions of his government in Darfur. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for him for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur – the first sitting head of state to be awarded that honour. On the plus side, he behaved far better than anyone expected in his handling of the Southern Sudan independence referendum in January and now wants international sanctions lifted as a reward.
7th - 29 years, 3 months in power Hosni Mubarak President of Egypt A former air force officer who took over after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, Mubarak has ruled under emergency law throughout his time in office. At the time of writing he appears determined to cling on to power no matter what and, as a result, is fast becoming the most destabilising force in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. With any luck, by the time you read this he'll have been forced out of office.
6th - 29 years, 4 months in power Humaid bin Rashid al-Nuaimi Emir of Ajman (UAE) Ruler of some 200,000 people, Sheikh Humaid has been the Emir of Ajman since late 1981 when his father Sheikh Rashid died. Like his father he married someone from the Al Nahyan family of Abu Dhabi. The emirate suffered a collapse in property values in 2008 which continues to rankle with investors.
5th - 32 years, 6 months in power Ali Abdullah Saleh President of Yemen The closest the Arab world gets to having a failed state – it’s not quite as bad as Somalia but at times you feel it can’t be far off. Saleh gained power through a coup in what was then North Yemen and has since held on to it by deft use of patronage and playing tribes off against each other. In the past few years he has had to fight a civil war against rebels in the north, secessionists in the south and al-Qaida loyalists in the east. This year, protests have been growing in the wake of the Tunisian revolution – something will force him out eventually, it’s just difficult to predict what.
4th - 36 years in power Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi Emir of Fujairah (UAE) A low-key figure, despite all his years in power, he is married to Sheikha Fatima bint Thani Al Maktoum, of the Dubai ruling family. He also has close links to Abu Dhabi and became emir after lobbying by Sheikh Zayed. Fujairah has a coastline on the Arabian Sea, rather than the Gulf, and so is strategically important to the rest of the UAE in case the Strait of Hormuz ever gets shut down again.
3rd - 38 years in power Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi III Emir of Sharjah (UAE) The longest-serving of the seven Emirati rulers. He had to battle against a six-day coup by his brother Abd al-Aziz in 1987 but has otherwise stayed firmly in power. He presides over the most conservative of the seven UAE emirates, but the local economy relies heavily on its links to neighbouring Dubai and all its excesses. He is also a published historian.
2nd - 40 years, 7 months in power Qaboos bin Said al Said Sultan of Oman Sultan Qaboos took power in a coup in July 1970, unseating his father in the process. Since then he has been sure to avoid naming any heir to the throne (he has no children of his own), lest they have a similar idea. He made great strides in modernising what was a hermit sultanate, particularly in his early years, but the economy is slowing down as its oil reserves run dry and life could get more difficult in the future.
1st - 41 years, 4 months in power Muammar Gaddafi Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution (Libya) As well as the longest-serving, Colonel Gaddafi is also the most bizarre leader of the lot. Among other things, he likes to lecture attractive Italian women on the benefits of Islam and pitch a tent in Western capitals whenever he visits. Once America’s “Enemy Number One” he has reinvented himself in recent years as a friend of the West, handing out oil contracts to European companies and abandoning a nuclear weapons programme. Rumoured to be lining up one of his sons to succeed him, with most bets being placed on Saif al-Islam.