The Qatari emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is handing over power to his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the outgoing ruler said as he addressed the nation.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, he said: "As I address you today; I declare that I will hand over the reins of power to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani; and I am fully certain that he is up to the responsibility; deserving the confidence; capable of shouldering the responsibility and fulfilling the mission."

Sheikh Hamad, the country's leader for 18 years, had met royals and prominent members of the Qatari society a day earlier, where plans for a transition to his son were confirmed.

"I am fully certain that you will be his support as you has always been mine; simply for the reason that in our nation run deep between the ruler and his people pledges of alliance; deep solidarity; and profound originality, cemented by our deeprooted traditions and glorious history."

Sheikh Tamim, 33, has been groomed for the position since 2003, when his elder brother stepped aside.

"God Almighty is aware that I had not desired power for the sake of power; nor endeavoured to rule for personal motives," Sheikh Hamad said in his speech on Tuesday. "Yet it has always been the nation’s interest; and that interest has dictated that we lead through a new chapter."

Sheikh Hamad has been in power since 1995, during which Qatar has evolved into an important player on the regional and international political scenes.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is the second son of the emir and Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser. 

Tuesday was declared a public holiday.

In his speech, Sheikh Hamad also called on his people to protect their identity.

"As I am confidant that you are fully aware of your loyalty and of your Arab and Muslim identity; I urge you to preserve our civilized traditional and cultural values, originating from our religion, Arab identity and above all our humanity; as we believe that the Arab World is one human body; one coherent structure; it prospers if all its parts are prosperous."

The Qatari Emiri Diwan announced it would receive citizens on Tuesday and on Wednesday to pledge allegiance to Sheikh Tamim as the new Emir of Qatar.

The British-educated Sheikh Tamim is deputy commander of the armed forces and head of the National Olympic Committee. He also chairs the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee which is in charge of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Source: Al Jazeera