New Qatari emir to make public speech

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to address Consultative Assembly day after being confirmed as leader by his father.

    New Qatari emir to make public speech
    Sheikh Tamim has been groomed for the position of emir since 2003, when his elder brother stepped aside [EPA]

    Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar's new leader, is scheduled to make his first important speech and announce imminent changes to the government installed by his father, the outgoing emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

    Sheikh Tamim, 33, will speak before the Consultative Assembly at around 6:00pm (15:00GMT) on Wednesday to present his new cabinet.

    Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, 61, the ruler of Qatar for 18 years, transferred the "reins of power" to his son a day earlier.

    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 after the speech finished 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


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