Manama: Qatar’s Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani told members of the royal family he will hand over power to his son Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani in the biggest leadership shake up in 18 years, Al Jazeera reported.
Shaikh Hamad is due to address Qatari citizens at 8am (0500 GMT) on Tuesday. A Qatari official said that the emir will “announce the transfer of his powers to his son.”
“Tuesday will be an official holiday,” he said.
Diplomats said earlier this month that the emir was considering an orderly transfer of power that would probably begin with the departure of the powerful prime minister and foreign minister, Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani, 53.
British-educated Shaikh Tamim, 33, has steadily acquired a prominent role in Qatar since his appointment as crown prince in 2003. He serves as chairman of the Qatar Investment Authority, the country’s primary sovereign wealth fund.
Shaikh Hamad has been in power since 1995, during which Qatar has evolved into an important player on the regional and international political scenes.
Abdullah Al Athbah, the managing editor of Al Arab newspaper, told Al Jazeera he did not expect to see a change in policy after the succession. “The heir apparent (crown prince) has been very close to his father and Shaikh Jasem,” he said, referring to the prime minister. “I don’t think there will be a big change in policy, foreign or domestic.”
Shaikh Tamim is the fourth son of Shaikh Hamad, 61, and the second child of the Emir with his second wife, Shaikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned.
Shaikh Tamim is member of the International Olympic Committee. In 2006, he headed the Organizing Committee of the ASIAD 2006 Games. An avid sports figure, he practiced football, tennis and swimming.
In line with the typical grooming of future leaders in the Gulf countries, Shaikh Tamim has been encouraged to assume an active role in Qatar’s domestic and foreign policies as well as in the country’s military
The Qatar blogosphere activity leapt into life, brining in comments from all over the world. “We are confident that Shaikh Tamim would be up to the responsibility,” Ahmad Al Attiya, a Qatari national, said.
A hashtag, thankyouhamad, created for the occasion has been particularly popular among social media users. “I have watched Qatar become an economic, sports, education and political leader. #ThankyouHamad for everything. You will always be in our hearts,” Samaia Samara posted.