Saturday, June 29, 2013
A New Emir – the First Changes
With His Highness Sheikh Tamim having now become Emir first item of business was to change the Council of Ministers. Most of the Ministers under the previous Emir have been changed and the papers provided the full list of the new Ministers. That the Prime Minister resigned was expected, even UK newspapers were reporting on his impending resignation a few weeks ago, instead speculation was around some of the other high-profile Ministries.
The Minister of Finance is now Mr. Ali Shareef Al-Emadi. He's the only new Minister whose name I immediately recognized as he is the CEO of Qatar National Bank, easily the largest bank in Qatar (and recently awarded by Bloomberg as something like the safest large bank in the world). I guess if you're going to appoint someone as your Minister of Finance appointing someone who's taken a large bank to such greatness is a pretty good choice. A Qatari also told me that he's the son-in-law of the former Minister of Finance but I haven't been able to verify that online.
The Minister of Energy kept his post though, one of the few who has not been changed.
But the post getting the most attention is the new Prime Minister (and Minister of Interior), Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. There've been some press articles looking more closely at this gentleman to see if there'll be any significant changes in foreign policy under his watch. Initial discussions indicate that the likely not be any significant policy shifts in the near future.
If you recall my post on Qatari names, and compare the names of the new Emir and Prime Minister:
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani
It looks like they might share the same grandfather, in which case they would be cousins. In fact I just assumed that they were but I decided to double check. Surprisingly according to Wikipedia, Shekih Tamim’s grandfather, Sheikh Khalifa, did not have a son named Nasser. This means the Khalifa in the Prime Minister's name refers to a different Khalifa so the Emir and Prime Minister could not be cousins.
Anyway, overall Qataris have no issue with the change in power to the new Emir, though most expressed sadness that His Highness Sheikh Hamad abdicated as he oversaw incredible change in Qatar and the life of your average Qatari improved dramatically. No one expects much to change in terms of Government policy in the near-term but I'm sure there will be a few things here and there -- Sheikh Hamad abdicated so that his son could provide fresh, innovative ideas, and what would be the point of that if nothing were to then change?