DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Background on Tuesday’s leadership transition in Qatar from the 61-year-old emir to his 33-year-old son, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
WHY IS QATAR IMPORTANT?
The Gulf state of Qatar is small — only about a third the size of Belgium — but has a carved out a significant global profile in the past decade.
Qatar has huge oil and gas riches that feed one of the world’s largest and most acquisition-hungry sovereign wealth funds, estimated at more than $100 billion. Holdings by the fund and other Qatar-controlled groups include stakes in London’s Harrods department store, the French luxury conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and football club Paris Saint-Germain. Qatar also has pledged billions of dollars to help businesses in debt-crippled Greece and Italy.
Qatar’s political aims are equally ambitious. It has served as mediator for peace efforts in Sudan’s Darfur region and among rival Palestinian political factions. It is currently hosting envoys from Afghanistan’s Taliban movement for possible U.S.-led talks seeking to stabilize the country before the American troop withdrawal next year. Qatar has played a central role in the Arab Spring by providing critical aid for Libyan rebels last year and is now a leading backer of Syria’s opposition.
Qatar’s government founded the television network Al-Jazeera in 1996, which transformed news broadcasting in the Arab-speaking world. The state-run Qatar Airways is among the world’s fastest-growing carriers.
IS SUCH A TRANSITION UNUSUAL?
It is exceedingly rare among the ruling Gulf Arab dynasties. Most leaders remain for life or have been pushed out in palace coups. Qatar’s outgoing emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, took control in a bloodless coup against his father in 1995.
The change in Qatar was believed to be prompted by Sheik Hamad’s health problems, but Qatar officials have not publicly disclosed any details.
Yet it reinforces Qatar’s bold political style. The transition to the crown prince appears a direct response to the Arab Spring demands for reforms and its emphasis on giving a stronger political voice to the region’s youth.
It also upends the ruling hierarchy among neighboring Gulf allies dominated by old guard leaders such as the 90-year-old King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait’s 84-year-old emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah.
WHAT CHANGES CAN BE EXPECTED?
Not many in the short term. The outgoing emir is expected to maintain a guiding hand over Qatar’s affairs for years to come. His son also has been involved in most key decisions in recent years as part of the grooming process.
The most noticeable changes will likely be among the top government posts. It’s expected that Qatar’s long-serving prime minister and others could be replaced as Sheik Tamim puts together his own inner circle.
Another possible new element could be more social media interaction. The British-educated Sheik Tamim was still a teenager when the Internet age began and is well attuned to its influence.
Sheik Tamim also headed up Doha’s unsuccessful attempt for the 2020 Olympics. He could give a boost to a possible return bid for the 2024 Games.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Winter weather advisory in effect after midnight into Saturday, expiring late Saturday night and into Sunday.
Police are investigating two accidents that happened within minutes of each other late Thursday night on Interstate 680.
A Mercer County business sustained damage after a fire broke out inside a garage late Thursday night.
An Ohio Lottery Commission employee was indicted Thursday on a felony count of theft in office.
Michael Hingson remembers Sept. 11, 2001, because he lived through it. He was on the 78th floor of the North Tower when the first plane hit.
The Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley doesn't want to leave anyone out in the cold during these frigid temperatures.
Families in Liberty Township who may be struggling are getting some help this holiday season.
On Thursday, some YSU business students showcased some of the work they have been doing as part of an e-commerce and social media course.
A truck driver lost his brakes and crashed into a fence, turning it on its side.
The Mahoning County Commissioners passed their 2014 budget on Thursday.
Some officers in Trumbull County were brushing up on their skills Thursday in the event that they are ever put in a situation with an armed suspect.
A Youngstown toddler who battled testicular cancer and is now cancer-free was going to have a night he would never forget on Thursday.
The Wean Foundation on Thursday announced $950,000 in grants that will be split among three organizations.
Bristol Local schools are planning to close for one day to allow students and faculty to attend the funeral services of a former teacher.
A bill now being considered in Columbus could one day give judges across the state more options when it comes to handling cases involving those with serious mental illness.
A woman was killed in a one-vehicle crash Thursday morning in Columbiana County.