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Reins of power in Qatar transferred to 33-year-old son of Emir

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 26th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Qatar's newly crowned 33-year-old emir, Sheikh Tamim is bringing his youthful enthusiasm in order to maintain his country's standing as the Arab world's new heavyweight. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani handed power to son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani after his 18 years in power. It's hoped that the vibrant new leader will inject "innovative ideas" into the small, gas-rich Gulf state.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sheikh Hamad said in a televised speech that the "time has come to open a new page in the journey of our nation that would have a new generation carry the responsibilities."

It's believed that Sheikh Tamim is unlikely to "open a new page" than to assume a role he has long been groomed for. His chief task will be in protecting the role Qatar has carved out for itself both in the region and on the world stage.

Schooled in the United Kingdom, the prince attended prestigious British private school Sherborne before graduating from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1998.

He also is no stranger to high-level responsibilities in his native country, having already held top security and economic positions. Sheikh Tamim has acted as deputy commander of the armed forces as well as deputy emir over the past three years. He is also chairman of the board of Qatar Investment Authority, or QIA, the Arab state's sovereign wealth fund.

The presence of the QIA is heavily felt throughout Europe. The authority has billion-dollar investments in several of Britain's most prominent landmarks and businesses: Barclays Bank, supermarket chain Sainsbury's, department story Harrod's and London skyscraper the Shard (the EU's tallest building). Qatar has also bought several luxury hotels in Paris, and is in the process of acquiring famous Parisian department store Printemps.

The prince is also renowned for his efforts to use sports as a way to boost the international reputation of the desert nation. A tennis and football enthusiast, the prince is head of the National Olympic Committee, oversaw Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and was the key player in the purchase of French football club Paris Saint-Germain.

He prince also supervised the restoration of Souq Waqef, a working class market in Doha, which has become a much-visited tourist attraction in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Most importantly, he is known to have warm ties to diplomatic leaders in the West, notably in France (he is also fluent in French) and the U.S. The prince has also improved relations with Saudi Arabia, Qatar's main rival for leadership of the Arab world and former adversary in a longstanding border dispute.

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