Previous news reports have stated that the father and current incumbent Al Thani, 61, has been suffering from health problems for some time.
Meanwhile, Hamad’s cousin, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasem, is expected to step down as prime minister. Jasem, however, will stay on with the Qatar Investment Authority, which manages wealth that recycles gas revenues. He will also continue his role with UK’s retail darling, Harrods.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the United States and Iran were briefed on the succession earlier this year.
“The plan is to manage a staged handover of power that allows the crown prince to come to the fore,” a source familiar with the situation told the Telegraph. “The stakes are very high because Qatar is at [the] forefront of events in a very sensitive region.”
While representatives from the Qatari government wouldn’t comment, it is expected that the transition will have “huge implications for the Middle East and Western foreign policy.” Hamad has a close alliance with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and may not be as liberal as his father, the Telegraph reported.
“The legacy of the emir and the prime minister has been to make Qatar a player in the world,” Michael Stephens, a Gulf researcher at the Royal United Services Institute, told the Telegraph. “It was an outpost when they took over and now it has grown into a modern city. It is one of the biggest investors in Europe and Britain, has set up a very powerful Arab television station [Al Jazeera] and has a very prominent foreign policy.
"That is almost all down to the driving force of those two men," he added.
Al Thani took power in a 1995 coup while his father was in Europe.