Qatar is the world’s richest country and is home to the world’s third-largest natural gas reserve. The small Arabian Peninsula has the highest per capita income in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Besides its wealth, Qatar is home to Al Jazeera Network and is an influential player in the Arab world. Qatar is also preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and will be the first Arab country in the world to host the event.
A number of powerful individuals including the Al Thani family, Qatar’s royal family, are behind Qatar’s great success and world status today.
The House of Al Thani: Qatar’s Royal Family
The ruling family of Qatar, Al Thani, has been ruling the Arab Peninsula since before its independence from the British in 1971. The first Al Thani to rule Qatar was Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani in 1850. Until today, Qatar has been ruled by nine Al Thani sheikhs in this order:
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani (1850–1878)
- Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani (1878–1913)
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Jassim Al Thani (1913–1914)
- Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani (1914–1949)
- Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Thani (1949–1960)
- Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani (1960–1972)
- Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani (1972–1995)
- Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (1995–2013)
- Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (2013–present)
HH The Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
Born on 3 June 1980, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is the Emir of Qatar and the fourth son of HH The Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. He was appointed as Qatar’s Heir Apparent on 5 August 2003 when his elder brother Sheikh Jasim renounced his claim to the title. He became Emir of Qatar on 25 June 2013.
HH The Emir received his education at Great Britain’s Sherborne School (International College) in 1997. He then attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, graduating in 1998. In 2005, Sheikh Tamim founded Qatar Sport Investments, which owns Paris Saint-Germain FC. among other investments. In 2006, he chaired the organising committee of the 15th Asian Games in Doha.
Under his leadership, Qatar won the rights to host the 2014 FINA Swimming World Championships. Sheikh Tamim is a member of the International Olympic Committee and the National Olympic Committee chairman. He headed Doha’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.
Sheikh Tamim heads the Qatar Investment Authority board of directors. Under his leadership, the fund has invested billions in British businesses. It owns large stakes in Barclays Bank, Sainsbury’s, and Harrods. The fund also owns a share of Europe’s tallest building, The Shard.
Sheikh Tamim previously held a number of other posts including:
- Chairman of the Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves
- Chairman of the Supreme Education Council
- Chairman of the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology.
- Chairman of the board of directors of Public Works Authority (Ashghal) and the Urban Planning and Development Authority (UPDA)
- Chairman of the board of regents of Qatar University
- Deputy chairman of the Ruling Family Council
- Vice president of the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment
- Deputy chairman of the High Committee for Coordination and Follow Up
HH, The Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
HH Sheikh Hamad seized power in a bloodless palace coup d’état in 1995. During his 18-year rule, Qatar’s natural gas production reached 77 million tonnes, making Qatar the richest country in the world per capita with the average income in the country US$86,440 a year per person. During his reign several sports and diplomatic events took place in Qatar, including 2006 Asian Games, 2012 UN Climate Change Conference, Doha Agreement, Hamas–Fatah Doha agreement and it was decided that the 2022 FIFA World Cup was to be held in the country. He established the Qatar Investment Authority; by 2013 it had invested over US$100 billion around the world, most prominently in The Shard, Barclays Bank, Heathrow Airport, Harrods, Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Volkswagen, Siemens and Royal Dutch Shell.
In June 2013, Sheikh Hamad handed power to his 34-year-old son, Sheikh Tamim Al Thani.
HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned
Born 8 August 1959, HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned is the wife of HH The Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and the mother of HH The Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Daughter of Nasser bin Abdullah Al Missned, Sheikha Mozah is the second of the three wives of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
She serves as Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), a private non-profit organisation founded in 1995. Its flagship project is Education City, which covers over 14 million square metres and houses branch campuses of renowned international universities and institutions. QF is also engaged in numerous scientific research and economic and social development projects. In addition to her work at Qatar Foundation, Sheikha Mozah served as the Vice Chair of the Supreme Council of Health from 2009-2014 and as the Vice Chair of the Supreme Education Council from 2006-2012. More recently, she chairs the Sidra Medical and Research Centre, a new training and research hospital that is envisaged to become a leading institution for women and children’s specialty care. Sheikha Mozah is the driving force behind Education City and Al Jazeera Children’s Channel.
On a regional and international level, Sheikha Mozah has launched multiple projects including the International Fund for Higher Education in Iraq, the Silatech initiative to address the growing challenge of youth employment in the Middle East and North Africa, and Education Above All (EAA), a global initiative that aims to bring new life chances and real hope and opportunities to poor and marginalised children, youth and women in the developing world. EAA is carrying out its objectives through a number of existing programmes such as Educate a Child (EAC), Protecting Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC) and Al-Fakhoora.
Sheikha Mozah plays an active role with the United Nations (UN) to support global education. In 2003, she was appointed as UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education; in 2008 she was appointed by the Secretary General of the UN as Alliance of Civilizations (AOC) Ambassador; and in 2010 she became a member of the UN Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group with a special emphasis on Goal 2 – universal primary education. In 2012, she was appointed as a Steering Committee Member of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative.
As a high-profile figure in Qatar’s politics and society and withing the region, Sheikha Mozah has been named as one of Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women at #75.
Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani
Sheikha Al Mayassa is the sister of HH, The Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and the 14th child in the Qatar royal family. She chairs Qatar Museums (QM), which manages the country’s art collection and museum landscape. Sheikha Al Mayassa holds a degree in arts and political science from Duke University and is fluent in Arabic, French and English. As the chair of QM, she has overseen the recent purchase of works by Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko, as well as a record-setting US$250 million for Cezanne’s “The Card Players.” The organisation’s annual acquisitions budget has been estimated at US$1 billion.
Sheikha Al Mayassa is also Chairperson of the Doha Film Institute (DFI) which partnered with the Tribeca Film Festival to produce several annual iterations of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. In February 2013, they announced a $100 million feature film fund with Participant Media, a production company founded by billionaire Jeffrey Skoll, who was the first employee and also first president of internet auction firm eBay.
Time, Forbes and Arabian Business have named her one of the 100 most powerful and influential women in the art world.
HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani
HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani is the sister of HH The Emir Sheikh Tamim and the third child of HH The Father Emir Sheikh Hamad and HH Sheikha Mozah. She is Vice Chairman of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, and Chair of CNA-Q’s Joint Oversight Board. In March 2014, Sheikha Hind launched Qatar’s first non-governmental organisation for education, ‘Teach For Qatar’ (TFQ).
Sheikha Hind, who also graduated from Duke University in Durham North Carolina, has been increasingly gaining international attention as well. When her father, The Father Emir Sheikh Hamad, was the Emir of Qatar, Sheikha Hind was the Director of the Emir’s Office and Chief of Staff sidelines but has become a key advisor to her father, helping shape policy, as well as representing Qatar at numerous conferences and official visits abroad.
HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani
Born in 1959, HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani is Qatar’s Prime Minister and the Minister of the Ministry of Interior. He served as an advisor to HH The Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and often represented him at ceremonial events and receptions.
Sheikh Abdullah held many senior military posts up to 1989 when he was appointed assistant Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 1979, Abdullah was appointed chairman of Qatar Olympic Committee, and held this post until 1989.
On 17 July 1989, he was named minister of interior. In addition to this post on 11 July 1995, he became deputy prime minister. On 29 October 1996, he was appointed prime minister and continued to assume his interior portfolio until 2 January 2001. Throughout the years, he has been serving in different posts at the body. In a cabinet reshuffle in June 2013, he was named prime minister, replacing Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani in the post, and minister of interior, succeeding Abdullah bin Khalid Al Thani.
HE Dr Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah
HE Dr Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah is the Minister of State for Defence Affairs and member of the Council of Ministers. His father, Mohammad Al Attiyah, was the founder of the Qatar Armed Forces, where Dr Al Attiyah joined Qatar’s air force where he served from 1987 to 1995. He then left the air force and established a law firm in 1995. While running his law form, from 2003 to 2008, he served as the president of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC).
However, Dr Al Attiyah started his career as fighter pilot. He received a bachelor’s degree in air science from King Faisal Air Academy in 1987 and also, a law degree from Beirut Arab University in 1993. He holds a master’s degree in public law (1991) and a PhD in law (2006) both of which he received from Cairo University.
From 2008 to 2011, he served as the minister of state for international cooperation as well as serving as acting minister for business and trade. In 2009, he became a member of Silatech’s board of trustees, a member of the board of directors and chairman of the executive committee of Qatar Diar company, and a member of the board of directors of Qatar electricity and water company, Kahramaa.
Dr Al Attiyah was first appointed minister of state for foreign affairs in a cabinet reshuffle in September 2011. In another cabinet reshuffle in June 2013, Dr Al Attiyah was reassigned as the minister of foreign affairs replacing the former foreign minister, Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani.
HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada
HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada is Qatar’s Minister of Energy and Industry. He graduated from the Qatar University with a bachelor of science degree in marine science and geology, and holds a PhD from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. Dr Al Sada currently holds posts of:
- Chairman of Qatar Chemical Company (Q-Chem)
- Chairman of the Board of Directors, RasGas Company Limited
- Chairman of Qatar Liquefied Gas Company (QatarGas)
- Vice-Chairman of Qatar Steel Company
- Chairman of the Joint Advisory Board (JAB), Texas A & M in the University of Qatar
Dr Al Sada is also a member of Qatar Permanent Constitution Preparation Committee, Supreme Education Council (SEC) and The National Committee for Human Rights.
Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani
Born in 1948, Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani is one of the richest men in Qatar. Sheikh Faisal, who is a distant relative of HH The Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is one of the most prominent Qatari businessmen, with a net worth of at least US$2.2 billion.
The billionaire owns multiple businesses as well as Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, which sits 14 miles west of Doha. The museum consists of 15 halls with more than 15,000 artifacts, including ancient religious books, artwork and vintage American cars. He is also the owner Al Faisal Holding, a Doha-based conglomerate that operates about 50 businesses in nine industries.
In addition, Sheikh Faisal has assembled a collection of luxury hotels and commercial real estate properties in six countries, diversifying abroad, acquiring Four Seasons hotel in Cairo, Grand Hyatt in Berlin, Radisson Blu Aqua in Chicago, W hotel in London’s Leicester Square and Miami’s St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort. He has eight more hotel properties under construction in the capital, part of a city-wide building boom ignited after it won the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
One of Al Faisal’s largest subsidiaries is Aamal, a Doha-based manufacturing and real estate group listed on the Qatar stock exchange that had QR2.12 billion (US$582 million) in revenue in 2013. Al Thani controls 66% of Aamal directly and through Al Faisal. Outside of Aamal, Al Thani controls other commercial real estate properties, including more than a dozen residential and office buildings and three hotels in Doha.
HE Akbar Al Baker
Born in 1962, Akbar Al Baker is the CEO of Qatar Airways. He was recently appointed with the title His Excellency (HE) for having led Qatar Airways into one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, with over a 130 destinations worldwide in a period of twenty years. Al Baker also leads the development of the Hamad International Airport (HIA), which opened its phase one in May 2014.
Al Baker became Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways in 1997. Prior to his appointment, he worked at the Civil Aviation Directorate of Qatar. He is also the former Chairman of the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA). He is also CEO of several divisions of Qatar’s national airline including Qatar Executive, Qatar Airways Holidays, Qatar Aviation Services, Qatar Duty Free Company, Hamad International Airport, Internal Media Services, Qatar Distribution Company, Qatar Aircraft Catering Company and member of the Board of Governors of IATA (International Air Transport Association).
HE Abdullah Al Thani
HE Sheikh Abdulla bin Ali Al Thani is President of Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), an emerging research university building upon unique collaborations with local and international partners, which seeks to provide unparalleled opportunities for scholarship, teaching, discovery, and learning through an array of interdisciplinary programs. HBKU’s partners are Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, Northwestern University in Qatar, HEC Paris in Qatar, and University College London Qatar.
Dr Al Thani is also Vice President, Education, at Qatar Foundation and Chairman of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), the leading global forum for innovative thinking and practice in education.
The World Economic Forum has named Dr Al Thani a Young Global Leader for his regional role in education reform and innovation. He serves on the Executive Council of the World Digital Library at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and on the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg, Germany. Dr Al Thani has been named to the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut; he also serves as a member of the Board of Advisers of the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University in Houston, Texas. He is a Board Member of the Palestine Happy Child Center which promotes the welfare of traumatised children.
His or Her Highness (HH)
His, Her, or Your Highness is a title of honour and form of address for royalty especially for a prince or princess.
His or Her Excellency (HE)
His, Her, or Your Excellency is a title of honour and form of address for certain high officials, such as viceroys, ambassadors, and governors.
*Sheikh/Sheikha: Also spelled Sheik/Sheika, Shayk/Shaikh, Shaikha, Shekh/Shekha, or Shaykh/Shaykha — is an honourific title in the Arabic language that literally means ‘elder’ and carries the meaning ‘leader and/or governor’.
Author: Ola Diab
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