Qatar's new Emir Sheikh Tamim unveils new cabinet

Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Qatar has been dominated by the new emir's family for almost 150 years

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Qatar's new Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has unveiled his new cabinet, a day after taking over from his father Sheikh Hamad.

Sheikh Abdallah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani is the new prime minister, replacing the long-serving Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani.

Sheikh Tamim earlier delivered his first address to the nation, praising his father's "miraculous" successes.

Qatar has been dominated by the Al Thani family for almost 150 years.

The new prime minister was also named interior minister.

Observers said the replacement of Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, who as foreign minister was also a prominent figure in regional diplomacy, had been expected.

Start Quote

We seek to preserve relations with all governments and countries, and we respect all sincere political directions in the region, but we do not support one side over the other”

End Quote Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani

Meanwhile Khalid al-Attiyah has been announced as foreign minister, while Ali Sherif al-Emadi becomes the new finance minister.

Energy and Industry Minister Mohammed Saleh al-Sada has kept his post.

'Young leadership'

Sheikh Tamim addressed the country in a speech broadcast on Qatari television on Wednesday afternoon.

The 33-year-old announced he would continue to follow his father's "path" and that the country's institutions would remain the same.

Regarding foreign policy, he said that his country "rejects divisions in Arab societies on sectarian lines".

"We seek to preserve relations with all governments and countries and we respect all sincere, active and effective political directions in the region but we do not support one side over the other," the new emir said.

He added that the country still faced a number of challenges which needed to be tackled

The previous emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, 61, announced the handover to his 33-year-old son on Tuesday, saying it was time for a "young leadership" to take over.

"Our youth have proved in recent years that they are resolute people, that they comprehend the spirit of the times and participate in it," he said.

A peaceful handover is a rarity for the Gulf, where most rulers stay in place for decades, normally until they die.

Bloodless coup

Sheikh Hamad seized power from his father Sheikh Khalifa in a bloodless coup in 1995, with the support of the armed forces and cabinet, and also neighbouring states.

Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
  • Born in 1980
  • Educated at exclusive Sherborne School and Sandhurst Military Academy in the UK
  • Replaced his brother as crown prince in 2003
  • Has held many influential posts, including head of Qatar Investment Authority
  • Becomes the youngest leader in the Arab world

Since then, the emir has introduced some political and economic liberalisation, and in recent years has made Qatar a major player in regional diplomacy.

In 2003, he named Sheikh Tamim - his second son by his second wife Sheikha Moza bint Nasser - as his heir apparent. He replaced his elder brother, Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

Analysts say the British-educated Sheikh Tamim, who is deputy commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is unlikely to deviate far from his father's policies.

He chairs the 2030 Vision project which outlines the development goals for the country and has a clear liberalising social agenda. The project has had significant input from his father and mother.

Sheikh Tamim is also head of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, which is in charge of preparing the emirate to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

In foreign policy, the emirate is expected to maintain its alliance with the West while at the same time pursuing an activist stance in Syria and other Arab countries.

However, he will also inherit strained relations with some of Qatar's Gulf neighbours, notably Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who have been angered by Qatar's perceived closeness to the influential regional Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.

The emirate has also tried to increase its diplomatic prestige further afield. Earlier this month, Afghanistan's Taliban movement opened its first office in the capital Doha to facilitate peace talks with the United States.

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