Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser to be named Qatar's Prime Minister, says Al Jazeera
Source: BI-ME with Bloomberg , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Wed June 26, 2013 3:21 pm

QATAR. Qatar’s Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, minister of state for internal affairs, will be named the country’s prime minister after the emir abdicated yesterday and handed power to his son, Al Jazeera reported, citing people it didn’t identify.

The new premier will replace Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani, who led Qatar’s government since 2007 as both premier and foreign minister.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani yesterday handed authority to the Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani after 18 years in power, saying the moment for new leadership had arrived. The new emir is due to address the nation at 6 p.m. local time today, according to the Qatar News Agency.

Qatar's Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, a graduate of Durham Military College in the U.K. and Beirut University, served as commander of Qatar’s internal security forces and chairs the country’s anti-terrorism committee, according to his official biography. Photographer: Fethi Belaid/AFP via Getty Images
Abdullah bin Nasser, a graduate of Durham Military College in the U.K. and Beirut University, served as commander of Qatar’s internal security forces and chairs the country’s anti-terrorism committee, according to his official biography. He visited Washington earlier this month, meeting with Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Michael McCaul, according to a press release on the ministry of interior website. He is married with five children, according to his biography.

The new prime minister will assume leadership of a country of 1.9 million people that is also the world’s biggest liquefied gas producer and richest country in the world per capita, according to the International Monetary Fund. Qatar also plans to invest $200 billion before hosting the 2022 World Cup of soccer, even as economic growth is slowing and gas exports are leveling off.

Security Background
With his security services background, Abdullah bin Nasser will add a new dimension to a position that was run by a prime minister who played a direct role in many of the country’s biggest foreign investments in recent years and led an aggressive policy abroad.

“The appointment of the new prime minister, who possesses a strong domestic portfolio, certainly shows that the new emir is keen to focus on domestic issues and to develop the country internally,” Michael Stephens, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute in Doha, said in a phone interview.

Hamad Bin Jassim was chairman of Qatar Holding LLC, the foreign investment arm of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, at a time when the fund bought stakes in Volkswagen AG and J Sainsbury Plc. (SBRY) The emirate’s money helped to support Barclays Plc (BARC) during the 2008 financial crises and bought London’s Harrods department store in 2010.

Investment Role
Bin Jassim often played a hands-on role in investments. In a late-night negotiating session at London’s Claridge Hotel last September, the prime minister helped to pushed Glencore International Plc’s then-Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg to raise the offer for Swiss miner Xstrata Plc (GLEN), in what became a $29 billion acquisition.

He also pushed a foreign policy that involved backing Syria’s armed rebels in their fight to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, sending warplanes to Libya to help NATO in its mission against Muammar Qaddafi’s forces, and lending Egypt’s Islamist post-Hosni Mubarak government $8 billion.

“People are quite happy that Tamim and the prime minister are going to focus more on the domestic needs of the country,” Stephens said.

Qatar plans to build a new $35 billion rail and metro network as well as stadiums, roads and a new port. Economic growth slowed to 6.2 percent last year from 17 percent in 2010, according to a report in May by Qatar National Bank SAQ. Gas exports leveled off after the last of 14 liquefaction plants was completed in 2011, raising the country’s capacity to make the fuel to 77 million tons.

 

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