Big boots to fill: Father's legacy could leave new Qatari emir under pressure

Published June 26th, 2013 - 05:50 GMT

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Image 1 of 9: Hamad’s autocratic government was a major backer of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, which is a far cry from his own accession to the throne in June 1995; he overthrew his father, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, in a palace coup.

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Image 1 of 9: He had to weather a coup attempt himself, allegedly instigated by the deposed emir (Hamad’s father) in February the following year, before he could consolidate his grip on power. Son and father eventually reconciled and settled a multi billion dollar financial dispute.

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Image 1 of 9: When Hamad al-Thani arrived, he was advised not to exploit the country’s natural gas. Instead, he did his own thing. Look at Qatar now.

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Image 1 of 9: With a population of around 2 million, approximately 250,000 are citizens. Qatar saw its per capita income shoot up to around $103,000 in 2012, making it the largest per capita income in the world.

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Image 1 of 9: Under Hamad's rule the Qatar Investment Authority invested billions of dollars in businesses ranging from Germany's Volkswagen to French energy giant Total and even Britain's Sainsbury's supermarket chain. Oh, and let’s not forget Barclays Bank.

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Image 1 of 9: The Gulf state developed a powerful media empire through Al-Jazeera, the first pan-Arab satellite channel which also broadcasts in English. An American launch is just around the corner.

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Image 1 of 9: Under Sheikh Hamad's rule, the emirate remained a staunch Western ally, hosting two US military bases at As-Sayliyah and Al-Udeid.

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Image 1 of 9: During his reign, Sheikh Hamad relied heavily on two people - his second wife Sheikha Moza, mother of Sheikh Tamim, and outspoken Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani.

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Image 1 of 9: Hamad's determination was honed in military bootcamp. He graduated from Britain's elite Sandhurst Academy in 1971 and was named defense minister, as well as crown prince in 1977.

The reins of power in Qatar have been transferred from father to son. Unlike the last transition, this was a peaceful shift in the region. Now, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani has taken over from his father. It has been reported that he’s suffering from a health condition.

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Tamim inherits his place at the top of a rising Gulf giant. However, his father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is expected to remain influential from behind the scenes. Propped up by abundant natural gas reserves and an international portfolio of real estate and business investments such as Britain's Total and Barclays Bank, Qatar is bursting onto the global diplomatic stage.

The pressure's on for the successor now to maintain a legacy of power, wide-reaching influence and national pride set by the Al Thani dynasty, as he takes the helm of the small rich Gulf peninsula.

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