News / Middle East

Qatari Emir Set to Hand Over to Son

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) is greeted by Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani at Wajbah Palace in Doha, June 23, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) is greeted by Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani at Wajbah Palace in Doha, June 23, 2013.
Reuters
The emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, 61, informed members of the ruling family on Monday of his decision to hand power to Crown Prince Sheik Tamim after a meeting in the capital Doha, the Qatari-owned television channel Al-Jazeera said.
 
The U.S.-allied Gulf Arab state is geographically small, with 2 million people, but is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, a global investment powerhouse, a growing force in international media and a financial backer of Arab Spring revolts.
 
A Gulf official told Reuters the announcement of the transfer of power would be made later on Monday.
 
The royal court said in a statement the emir would make a speech at 0500 GMT and Tuesday would be a national holiday.
 
Qatari political analyst Mohammed al-Misfer told Al-Jazeera he did not expect major changes in the event of a handover, adding that Sheik Tamim was already involved in running the country under his father's direction.
 
Diplomats said earlier this month that the emir was considering an orderly transfer of power that would probably begin with the departure of the powerful prime minister and foreign minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, 53.
 
New generation
 
Arab and Western diplomats said they understood the motive was the emir's desire to have a smooth transition to a younger generation. Such a transition would be unusual for Gulf Arab states, where leaders usually die in office.
 
Sheik Tamim is 33, young compared to other Gulf rulers.
 
Qatar's one-family absolute monarchy has ruled over the Gulf peninsula for more than 130 years.
 
Sheik Hamad bin Jassim has been prime minister since 2007 and has played a central role in positioning Qatar as a regional power broker. He is also vice-chairman of the board of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), a position he is expected to retain. QIA has estimated assets of $100 billion to $200 billion.
 
Widely seen as a savvy dealmaker, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim has personally negotiated some of the sovereign wealth fund's most high-profile investments, and held talks with Glencore's chief last year when the fund demanded better terms for backing Glencore's acquisition of Xstrata. The companies eventually merged to create Glencore Xstrata.
 
The emir has elevated Qatar's international profile in recent years through the launch and development of the Al-Jazeera television network, as well as its successful bid to host the 2022 soccer World Cup tournament.
 
Qatar has played a substantial role in promoting Arab Spring protests, lending significant support to rebels who toppled and killed Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafiin 2011 and to a continuing uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
 
It has also played host to a delegation of the Afghan Taliban, which opened an office in Doha last week in preparation for expected talks with the United States about how to end a 12-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.
 
Punching above its weight

 
Other political crises and wars that Qatar has tackled include Yemen, Somalia, Lebanon, Darfur and the Palestinian territories, often arranging for peace talks on its own soil to try to prove it can punch above its weight in international diplomacy.
 
Eman Ebed Alkadi of the Eurasia Group consultants wrote that she did not expect Qatari domestic priorities or its foreign policies to change significantly with a change of ruler.
 
“Tamim has controlled key policies in Qatar for some time, and shares his father's views on political development in Qatar and economic diversification,” Alkadi wrote.
 
National budgets had been agreed up until 2016-2017, Alkadi said, and with preparations for the World Cup in full swing, much change in domestic momentum was unlikely.
 
When he took power at age 44, the emir was among the youngest leaders in the region. Viewed as less aloof than other Gulf Arab monarchs, he could often be found at his favorite cafDe in Doha's souq, talking with the patrons.
 
Qatar is the world's largest exporter of LNG, an achievement that set the country on a track to achieve double-digit economic growth for several consecutive years, during a time when many Western nations were mired in recession.
 
This spurred a population boom, with inhabitants surging from 500,000 to 1.9 million in the last decade.
 
Revenue from gas exports helped fund a string of high-profile purchases by the sovereign wealth fund, including the acquisition of London department store Harrods as well as stakes in oil majors Total and Shell.
 
But in 2005 Qatar declared a moratorium on development of the North Field to allow the impact of a rapid increase in output on the reservoir to be studied. The moratorium is expected to last until 2015 and likely beyond.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid