Doha, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, announced that he will be transferring power to his son following days of speculation.
In a gathering of the country’s ruling family, the Emir announced on Monday that he is intent on transferring power to his 33-year-old son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Speaking on Qatari television on Tuesday, Sheikh Hamad said: “I announce I am handing over power to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani…. I am fully certain that he is up to the responsibility, deserving of confidence, capable of shouldering the responsibility and fulfilling the mission.”
“Our youth have proved in recent years that they are resolute people, that they comprehend the spirit of the times and participate in it,” he added.
This week marks the 18th anniversary of Sheikh Hamad coming to power on June 27, 1995.
Sheikh Tamim was born on June 3, 1980 and educated in the UK. He was declared Crown Prince on August 5, 2003, after his older brother stepped aside. A graduate of the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and former deputy commander of Qatar’s armed forces, he currently heads the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which holds USD 100–200 billion worth of assets. The Crown Prince also reportedly played a major role in his country’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup, making Qatar the first Arab and Islamic country to host the international event.
Under Sheikh Hamad, Qatar has become a modern state whose gas and oil wealth has strengthened its growing regional and international role in the world of politics.
Qatar is ranked first in liquefied natural gas export and third in natural gas reserves, and has a sovereign wealth fund estimated to be worth USD 200 billion, with proven gas reserves estimated at 500 trillion cubic feet (tcf).
Qatar is currently playing a central role in international politics, organizing and hosting several talks between conflicting factions in the region. In 2008, Qatar conducted talks among several Lebanese factions which produced the Doha Agreement, putting an end to the political crisis that gripped the country for a year and a half. In the Qatari capital, the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) was finalized in 2011 by the Sudanese government and the insurgents in Darfur. In 2012, the Doha Palestinian Unity Agreement was signed to patch up the rift between Palestinian rivals, Hamas and Fatah.
Doha’s regional and international roles gathered considerable momentum with the Emir supporting the Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and, more emphatically, in Syria, where the rebels continue to fight against the Bashar Al-Assad regime.