A new political star rises in Qatar

22 November 2012

The increasing authority of Qatar’s crown prince raises questions for the prime minister

Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Crown Prince and Heir Apparent, may only be 32, but he is emerging as one of the most important figures in running the country.

His public profile has risen perceptibly in the past two years. Most significantly, he announced a populist measure to increase salaries for civil servants. This included a bumper pay rise for the military and served to not only bolster support for Qatar’s rulers among the armed forces, but also vitally for Sheikh Tamim himself.

Sheikh Tamim has also emerged as a figurehead behind Qatar’s Olympic bid for 2020, the Public Works Authority (Ashgal) – the body behind the delivery of much of Qatar’s planned infrastructure – and as head of supreme councils of the economy, healthcare and education.

Clearly, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani is grooming his second son by wife Sheikha Mozah to take over ruling the country. Handing over more of the day-to-day running of Qatar also gives Sheikh Hamad more room for the international diplomacy that has thrust the country on to the world stage.

But it is not just the emir that has helped drive Qatar’s transformation. His prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, has also played an instrumental role in shaping Qatar’s foreign relations, international acquisitions and domestic economy. As Sheikh Tamim rises to greater prominence, how he interacts with Sheikh Hamad, who has shown great loyalty to the emir, will be Qatar’s biggest political issue.

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