New emir for Qatar as father abdicates throne for his son
In a seven minute speech, the outgoing Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said he was passing power to his son and to Qatar's next generation, which he described as "the munitions of this homeland," he said.
"Time has come to turn a new leaf in the history of our nation, where a new generation steps forward to shoulder the responsibility with their dynamic potential and creative thoughts," the 61-year old emir said, seated in the Amiri Diwan.
"As I address you today; I declare that I will hand over the reins of power to Shaikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani; and I am fully certain that he is up to the responsibility."
Sheikh Tamim, a 33-year old military officer, will now lead a nation of 1.9 million that, despite its small size, has become the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas and a key broker in international financial markets through its more-than US$100 billion (Dh367bn) sovereign wealth fund.
Immediately after his father's speech, Sheikh Tamim was expected to begin a two-day process of consultations with families and tribes, and any Qatari citizens who wished to visit the Amiri Diwan "to swear allegiance to HH Sheikh Tamim as Emir of Qatar," during open hours Tuesday morning and afternoon and Wednesday morning, the Qatar state news agency reported.
State television showed the new emir and his father receiving a long line of guests on Tuesday morning in a large open area in the Diwan, flanked by Qatari flags.
Later on, possibly today or later this week, Sheikh Tamim is expected to name a new government, including ministerial posts and also the new heir apparent, who would take over as emir in the event that Sheikh Tamim could not continue in the role.
Among the changes expected is the stepping down of prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, who has been the public face of Qatar's growing influence for the last half decade.
Bestowing power on his son, outgoing Emir Sheikh Hamad reflected on his 18 years of rule saying that he had not "desired power for the sake of power; nor endeavored to rule for personal motives," saying that it was instead "the nation's interest; and that interest has dictated that we lead through a new chapter."
Sheikh Hamad, who took power in 1995, said he was placing faith in the country's younger generation more broadly by transferring power to his son.
He urged the new leadership to "seek knowledge" and "let hard work be your habit in serving your country, steering away from complacency or reluctance or acceptance of existing state of affairs."
Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, which first announced the transition would begin on Monday, said it expected many of the new ministers in a new government to reflect this generational shift, suggesting they may be younger than current incumbents.
The transfer of power "is a great sign that Qatar believes in the youth, both in the Royal family and in the society," said Reem Harmi, a Qatari writer.
Tuesday was declared a national holiday in Qatar to mark the transition of power.
Updated: June 25, 2013 04:00 AM