Qatar set to get new prime minister

New emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani expected to name minister of state for interior affairs as head of new cabinet.

Qatar’s Minister of State for Interior Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, will be the country’s new prime minister, sources have told Al Jazeera.

The expected appointment comes a day after Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani took over the reins of power from his 61-year-old father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who ruled the country for 18 years.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani will replace Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, who also held the foreign minister’s portfolio and was considered to be a driving force behind the Gulf state’s rise to global prominence.

Sheikh Tamim, 33, the new emir, is due to to make the announcement in his first major public speech before the country’s consultative council, and will also announce other changes to the government installed by his father. 

Among those changes will be the appointment of Dr Khalid Bin Mohammad Al Attiyah as Qatar’s new foreign minister, a portfolio that was also previously held by the outgoing PM. Dr Al Attiyah is currently Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

Sheikh Tamim, spoke before the Consultative Assembly on Wednesday.

Peaceful transition

The hand over of power in a peaceful transition is seen as a rare moment in the Gulf.

“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 said on Tuesday, in an address to the nation.

Live television footage from after the address showed Sheikh Hamad and his son smiling widely, being greeted with traditional embraces by dignitaries and prominent members of the Qatari society.

Abdullah al-Athbah, editor of al-Arab newspaper, explains the handover process

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

Saudi Arabia was quick to offer congratulations to Sheikh Tamim.

The kingdom’s 90-year-old King Abdullah said: “We are confident that you will continue the journey of your father … and his efforts in serving the state of Qatar and its brotherly people as well as strengthening relations between the two nations.”

The UAE followed with its President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan affirming the “deepness of the brotherly relations,” in a statement carried by state media.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague thanked Sheikh Hamad for friendship and support, and tweeted that Tuesday symbolised an “historic day for Qatar as the new generation takes over.” 

Handover process

James Bays, Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor, said the handover is likely to be completed by the weekend, which begins on Friday in Qatar.

Sheikh Hamad took power at the age of 44 in a 1995 bloodless coup, seizing the reins of government while his father was on an overseas trip.

Since then Qatar’s economy has grown significantly.

The state also adopted a pragmatic policy, cultivating relationships with countries and groups across the political spectrum.

“When [know] that [Sheikh Tamim] has been involved very closely with Qatari policy, both domestic and foreign policy for some considerable time,” Al Jazeera’s Bays said. “Slowly he’s been taking more and more of a share of the running of this country.

“It’s not as though he is now going to be sitting at a new desk with a new brief. He has been taking control of many matters, both in terms of their domestic and international policy.”

Source: Al Jazeera