Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 26th 2013 Contents Affable, confident and open, but
savvy, calculating and measured;
these are some of the adjectives
used by people who have met
Qatar s new emir, Sheikh Tamim
bin Hamad al-Thani.
A blend of public grace and private
judgment will be crucial in charting
the country through the stormy
waters of Middle Eastern politics,
while balancing this society s
conservatism with its higher global
Untested in the top seat and lack-
ing the experience of his father,
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, diplomats
will be following his progress care-
fully as he builds a new team.
The outgoing Sheikh Hamad
turned a near-bankrupt Gulf back-
water into one of the world s richest
nations, using its gas receipts to
become a global investor and diplo-
His son comes from a generation
of Qataris who have grown up with
more of the benefits of modernity,
while also realising that their parents
relentless pursuit of development
has taken people away from their
Educated at Sherborne public
school and, like his father, Sandhurst
military college, Sheikh Tamim s
career has been rooted in the military
and security services.
His British connection extended
as far as a holiday in the 1990s at
Highgrove with British Princes
Charles, William and Harry.
Sheikh Tamim has also taken on
a bigger foreign affairs role. Like his
mother, Sheikha Moza, analysts say
he was a force behind Qatar s sup-
port for the Libyan rebels who
deposed Col Muammer Gaddafi.
As part of his security brief, he
has forged greater links with neigh-
bouring power Saudi Arabia, helping
improve---but not yet resolve---his-
torically testy bilateral relations.
With Qatar accused of overplaying
its hand in backing rebels in the Syr-
ian civil war, analysts believe he may
come under pressure to limit some
of Doha s more aggressive regional
"I am sure he will have people
counselling him to be better, to pause
and work more with fellow Gulf
states, especially on Syria," says Jane
Kinninmont of Chatham House.
A keen sportsman, Sheikh Tamim
has oversight over many of Qatar s
sporting pursuits, playing a role in
the successful bid to host the World
Cup in 2022 and failed attempts to
win rights to host the Olympic
A supporter of Manchester United
football club, his entrée into the
world of football financing was in
France, a close ally to Qatar. Sheikh
Tamim, fluent in French as well as
English, was behind the purchase of
Paris St Germain in a bid to turn
the club into a European contender.
Married twice with six children,
few expect the young emir to make
radical changes. But different per-
sonalities and priorities on the fringes
of policy could emerge as a younger
cabinet is named later this week.
"The broad strokes of Qatari policy
are well established, but that leaves
much room for interpretation led by
the new emir," says David Roberts
of the Royal United Services Institute
Observers say that, politically,
Sheikh Tamim may emerge as a
more conservative, risk-averse figure
than his father, attuned to the tra-
ditional forces that run deep in soci-
ety while aware of the need to update
the country s outdated bureaucracy
and encourage locals into the poor-
er-paid private sector.
Many Qataris believe that pre-
serving national identity in a fast-
changing society will be a focal point
for Sheikh Tamim as he balances
modernity and conservatism.
As Qataris become an ever-
decreasing minority in their own
land, many are calling for the pro-
motion of Islamic and nationalistic
ideals, such as limiting the sale of
alcohol or reasserting Arabic lan-
guage in education, as a counter-
weight to the country s greater open-
ness as a new Gulf hub for finance,
tourism, culture and sports.
Some have argued Sheikh Tamim
is more religious and willing to
entrench religion in daily life, saying
this has led to Qatar s increasing
promotion of political Islam in
Egypt and Syria.
However, most observers in Doha
say Sheikh Tamim is a pragmatist
who will follow the policy forged by
his father and the prime minister,
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani.
They have used the rise of political
Islam to further Qatar s regional
objectives, in contrast to the anti-
Islamist United Arab Emirates, bet-
ting that the Muslim Brotherhood
will become an even more potent
force for decades to come.
Many observers say such a
domestic reorientation may be wel-
come as the country embarks on its
next great economic boom.
If the past decade was marked by
fast growth based on gas develop-
ment, a new period of rapid infra-
structural expansion is coming as
Doha prepares to host the World
Cup in 2022.
Increased criticism of Qatar s
treatment of labourers and its out-
dated immigration and legal systems
may come as the world s focus turns
to the tiny peninsula.
New contracts have already been
awarded for the creation of a metro
system and new roads as the country
forges ahead with the building of
new museums and a new city in
Lusail, where the final of the World
Cup in 2022 is scheduled to take
His father s legacy was to use
Qatar s new found wealth to put the
state on the global stage. Sheikh
Tamim will now have to deliver soci-
etal, as well as economic, develop-
harsher spotlight of global scrutiny.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Sheikh Tamim---Qatar's new emir
In this January 29, 2011 photo, Qatar's crown prince, Sheik Tamim bin
Hamad Al Thani, attends the AFC Asian Cup final soccer match between
Japan and Australia in Doha, Qatar. AP PHOTO
"The broad strokes of Qatari policy are well
established, but that leaves much room for
interpretation led by the new emir."
---DAVID ROBERTS of the Royal United Services Institute
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