Qatar cabinet reshuffle hands key ministries to top CEOs

Qatari emir orders cabinet reshuffle, giving two big portfolios to banking and oil firm chief executives.

Qatar National Bank group CEO, Ali Ahmed al-Kuwari
New Trade and Industry Minister of Qatar Ali Ahmed al-Kuwari, Qatar National Bank group's CEO [File: Reuters]

Qatar appointed the heads of its biggest bank and state-run oil firm to two key ministerial posts in a cabinet reshuffle on Sunday.

The reshuffle ordered by Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was the first government reshuffle in Qatar, the world’s top liquefied natural gas producer, since early 2016.

The country’s ruler also issued decrees restructuring the boards of both the state-run Qatar Petroleum (QP) and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the world’s ninth-largest sovereign wealth fund with about $300bn in assets.

Qatar National Bank (QNB) CEO, Ali Ahmed al-Kuwari was appointed to a new portfolio that combined commerce and industry under one ministry in the reshuffle, which also included changes to the justice, labour and social affairs ministries.

It was not clear whether al-Kuwari would retain his post at QNB, the Middle East‘s largest lender by assets, which is 50 percent owned by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). 

Another chief executive, Saad al-Kaabi of QP, joined the cabinet as Minister of State for Energy Affairs, according to the royal court’s decree. 

Al-Kaabi, a US-educated engineer, rose through the ranks to become chief executive of QP in 2014 and is also a member of the board of the QIA.

Among the executives of the world’s energy giants like Exxon, Shell and Total, he has the reputation of a reliable counterpart in energy projects that have made the tiny nation of 2.6 million people the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). 

Qatar has been facing a diplomatic and economic boycott by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since June 2017.

The four countries accuse Qatar of backing terrorism and cosying up to Iran, charges that Doha denies and instead says the boycott aims to impinge on its sovereignty.

Source: Reuters