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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid