Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani: Meet Qatar's new emir


Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani took over from his father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani as the new emir of Qatar on Tuesday.

Sheikh Hamad ruled Qatar for 18 years after a bloodless coup in 1995, and in that time made the tiny Emirate an important diplomatic player, while raising its profile internationally.

His son, the 33-year-old Sheikh Tamim, takes the reins of power during a tumultuous period that includes Qatar's involvement in the war in Syria and its preparation for the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

Tamim has pledged to support countries that reject "divisions in Arab societies on sectarian lines."

He moved quickly on Wednesday to name a new cabinet - a decision that signaled he'd continue down a similar path his father took.

Sheikh Tamim's new cabinet was more of a reshuffle than a group of fresh faces with the prime minister becoming the interior minister and many others staying in their posts.

The new prime minister was also named interior minister.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, the country's foreign minister has stepped down and will be replaced by Khalid Al Attiyah, who is already Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

Sheikh Tamim's succession is a clear move towards a younger leadership style. He has been next in line for the throne since 2003, after his older brother decided to step aside.

The National reported that the new emir has been at the forefront of Qatar's growing clout and recognition around the world.

He was also the main salesman for Qatar hosting the Olympics in 2020, though the bid eventually failed.

More from GlobalPost: Qatar emir hands power to son in historic transition

Sheikh Tamim studied in Britain at both the private high school Sherborne in Dorset and the prestigious Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, where his father studied before him.

After returning home, he held a number of posts with a keen interest in sports.

Sheikh Tamim chaired the organizing committee of the 15th Asian Games in Doha, and started Qatar Sport Investments.

Known for his love of soccer, he became the largest and now only shareholder in the storied football team Paris Saint-Germain.

He also held posts in Qatar's education system and its sovereign wealth fund.

During his time as the Supreme Education Council, Sheikh Tamim changed Qatar University's instruction from English to Arabic, which drew some criticism.

Sheikh Tamim's posts have mainly focused on domestic issues, but he faces numerous challenges abroad.

In the last few years, Qatar has moved from the position of international mediator to becoming involved in controversial moves such helping depose Middle Eastern dictators like Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

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Qatar's monetary and military support for the Syrian rebels is facing difficulties as the Assad regime retaliates with the help of the Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah.

Despite his credentials, little is known about what kind of reforms Sheikh Tamim might undertake both at home and abroad.

“The broad strokes of Qatari policy are well established, but that leaves much room for interpretation led by the new emir,” David Roberts of the Royal United Services Institute in Doha told Gulf News.

In 2005, Sheikh Tamim married his second cousin Sheikha Jawaher bint Hamad bin Suhaim Al Thani and together they have four children.