Emir of Qatar takes unusual step of handing power to his son Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim


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The Independent Online

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is stepping down and handing power to Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim.

However, political analysts do not expect major changes after the handover because Sheikh Tamim is already involved in running the country under his 61-year-old father’s direction.

The royal court said the emir would make a speech on Tuesday, which has been declared a national holiday.

The Gulf state is small, with a population of two million, but is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, a global investment powerhouse, and a financial backer of Arab Spring revolts.

Diplomats said earlier this month that the emir was considering an orderly transfer of power to his son that would probably begin with the departure of the powerful Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani.

Arab and Western diplomats said they understood the motive was the emir’s desire to have a smooth transition to a younger generation.

Such a transition would be unusual for Gulf Arab states, where leaders usually die in office. Sheikh Tamim is 33, young compared with other Gulf rulers.

Qatar’s one-family absolute monarchy has ruled the country for more than 130 years.