Emir of Qatar
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani became the Emir of Qatar at the age of 33 after his father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, abdicated in June 2013. Qatar is the richest country in the world with a GDP per capita of $93,352. It is the top exporter of liquefied natural gas, and the site of the third largest natural gas reserves in the world.
Birth: 3 June 1980 (Age: 37)
Source of Influence: Political
School of Thought: Sunni, Muslim Brotherhood
Status: Featured in current year
Family: Sheikh Tamim is Sheikh Hamad’s fourth son and was chosen as Crown Prince in August 2003. His mother is the powerful Sheikha Moza, who still plays a prominent public role as an advocate for social and educational causes.
Education: Sheikh Tamim completed his studies at a private school in UK before going on to graduate at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst (in 1998). During his time as Crown Prince (2003-13), Sheikh Tamim had exposure to a wide-range of posts including security (he was deputy commander of the armed forces), economics (chairman of the Qatar Investment Authority) and sports. Indeed he supervised Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Expectations: Qatar exploded onto the world scene under his father’s reign, and expectations are that Sheikh Tamim will try to consolidate these achievements. Packing a punch far above its weight has led to neighbouring countries questioning the purpose of so many initiatives. He has had to repair relations with other Gulf countries over supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, and defend Qatar’s world image over the treatment of labourers in Qatar. Joining a Saudi-led alliance against the Houthis, and pledges made to improve working conditions of labourers seemed to have addressed both issues.
Blockade: In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut all relations with Qatar and imposed trade and travel bans. This drastic action resulted from various claims that Qatar was supporting terrorism and had violated a 2014 agreement with GCC countries. Its good relations with Iran and it hosting Al-Jazeera TV network are also factors in this tense situation which has seen foodstuff imported from Iran and Turkish soldiers called in to help safeguard Qatar assets. A further complicating factor in this family feud is that Qatar hosts the largest American base in the Middle East and all the blockade partners are close allies of the US.