Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani announced in a live televised address to the nation on Tuesday that he will transfer power to his son Sheikh Tamim.
In a speech broadcast on Qatar state television, Sheikh Hamad, 62, said it was time for “a new generation to take over.” But he made no direct mention of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who had been widely expected to also step down.
“God knows that I didn't want power in itself and I didn't seek it for personal reason,” said the emir, who overthrew his father in a bloodless coup in 1995.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani will be the new emir of a gas-rich nation which has punched above its weight in recent years.
Sheikh Hamad, who used Qatar's immense gas wealth to drive its modernization and transform it into a major player in world diplomacy, came to power in a coup in which he overthrew his own father Sheikh Khalifa in June 1995.
A diplomat said that by freely stepping down the 61-year-old emir would “score a first in the Arab world,” where autocratic rulers held power uncontested for decades until the Arab Spring revolutions that toppled regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Tamim, born in 1980, is the second son of the emir and his second wife Sheikha Mozah and has been groomed for years to take the helm of the super-rich Western ally.
The British-educated Tamim is deputy commander of the armed forces and head of the National Olympic Committee. He also chairs the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee in charge of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Diplomats said that over the past three years the emir has increasingly transferred military and security responsibilities to Tamim, who like his father went to the British military academy Sandhurst.
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