A mixture of sadness and hope was felt among many Qataris as rumours that the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, had decided to hand over power to his 33-year-old son, came true.
On Monday, the country’s leader – who has ruled for the past 18 years – announced that his heir apparent, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, would be taking over.
In a formal address to the nation is on Tuesday morning, the outgoing emir said of his son: “I am fully certain that he is up to the responsibility, deserving the confidence, capable of shouldering the responsibility and fulfilling the mission.”
A sense of joy was somewhat muted in the aftermath of the first announcement on Monday amid feelings of loss.
Many citizens described Sheikh Hamad, 61, as a father figure, and someone who was responsible for reforming the nation, putting it on the map and bringing them prosperity.
Here are some views of Qatari nationals:
Fatima, 38, radio news presenter
There had been rumours, but I didn’t believe them until it was announced. Such a transition of power is rare and this shows Sheikh Hamad loves his people. I tweeted earlier that “Hamad is our home”. He gives a lot and doesn’t expect in return. He loves his people, he would sacrifice his chair for them, he’s so generous. We’re provided with education, electricity, health insurance, everything. We’re living for free. Nothing will change, but I am afraid of the political reaction outside of Qatar. We don’t know how it will be.
Amna Mohammed, 27, works in oil and gas industry
Other leaders have and will lead until the last moment, which is usually death, but Sheikh Hamad has announced a peaceful transition of power. We feel safe with his choice, and Sheikh Tamim will take good care of the country’s natural resources. The only concern is that life now is perfect, in terms of what we are granted: health, education and the land we are given to build homes. How can it be better? I want my children to enjoy the same life I have. Sheikh Hamad has planned ahead of time, but I can’t say I know what the future holds.
Muted celebrations at Souq Waqif [Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel]
Ayesha Ahmed, 24, engineer
Sheikh Hamad treats us like he’s a father, not an emir. He changed Qatar; he transformed a desert to a prosperous nation. You can see this in terms of education, and economy. The emir is very wise, so I trust his choices, but his leaving is going to be painful for us.
Yusuf Issa, 50, works in foreign affairs ministry
Nobody feels sadness. He is handing over power to the youth in his lifetime; this will bring more confidence. Sheikh Tamim is 33 years old, but what’s the problem? He is educated, understanding and has good experience.During his father’s tenure, over time, he took 80 percent of the work. Many people want to see Sheikh Hamad supporting his son in his lifetime. He’s upgraded Qatar, built Qatar and kept Qatar relevent. He brought us the 2022 World Cup. Our economy, lifestyle and income has improved. This change is a gift from God; you can’t find it anywhere in the GCC or Arab countries. How come in Syria, he [President Bashar al-Assad] doesn’t like to leave and give up power? He killed his people instead of giving up.Qatar has changed 100 percent under Sheikh Hamad. This nation is an important and influential player politically and economically. It has investment in Britain and France. Before people didn’t know where Qatar was; now everyone knows the country. It will place pressure on other GCC states to empower the second generation.
|Maryam al-Mearej: The new leader will be like his father [Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel]|
Maryam Mohamed Maarej, 52, retiree
I’m upset; I love Sheikh Hamad and Sheikh Tamim. I remember when Sheikh Hamad came to power, there were huge celebrations. He brought us security. We weren’t sitting outside in the souq all night before he came he came to power. He did all of this. We see him walking through the souq, him and his whole family just come over and greets the people – they are like our relatives. The new leader will be like his father. Like him, he will make the country better. Before Sheikh Hamad came to power, it would have been sinful to remain outside beyond 7.30pm; it was more conservative. All that has changed.
Abu Faisal, works in the army
Everything is going to be better with Sheikh Tamim. Although nothing will be different now, the future will be better. The world is changing fast and he is needed as a representative of the new generation. This is a healthy change.
Abdulla al-Raeissi, 22
We knew this was coming. Putting his son in power is going to have a good impact. Sheikh Hamad has put Qatar on the map. If Sheikh Tamim is reading this, I would like to tell him that we ask God to protect him.
|Abdulla al-Raeissi: Sheikh Hamad has put Qatar on the map [Al Jazeera/Matthew Cassel]|
Abdulaziz Mubarak, 30, civil service employee
This is sudden news; we didn’t expect it. We know Sheikh Tamim, he’s a good man, and he will act like his father. It’s not a problem for us, it’s a friendly handover and a great step by Sheikh Hamad. By handing over in this way, they have put other countries in a critical situation. He has shown that the focus should not be on ruling countries, it should be on how to make your people happy, comfortable and live in a high standard. The feeling isbetween sadness and hapiness. The youth is now in the driving seat; Sheikh Tamim has the experience. He’s been preparing for 10 years.
Hessa Ahmed, 25, secretary
It makes sense for Sheikh Hamad to guide Sheikh Tamim through. At 33 years old, he’s the youngest emir in the Gulf, so it will be wise if his father shows him. He [Sheikh Tamim] has been involved in so many activities already. I hope this sets an example from the Gulf to the rest of the Arab region. For example in Kuwait, there are people rioting to remove their emir from his position. Sheikh Hamad is giving up power without the people asking.