June 25 - Qatar's emir -- acknowledged for raising the Gulf state's international profile -- announces he is leaving his post and handing over power to his son. Miriam Berger reports.
The new emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani, standing on the right, greets Qatari dignitaries next to his father in pictures broadcast by the Emirate's state television on Wednesday. The outgoing emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down, a highly unusual step for a hereditary ruler. In a speech broadcast on Qatar state television, Sheikh Hamad explained it was time for a new generation to take over and expressed his confidence in his son Sheikh Tamim, who was set to take on the responsibility. Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim's ascent provides a stark contrast to other Gulf Arab states whose youthful populations are ruled by kings or princes in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Diplomats had said the 61-year-old emir had long planned to abdicate in favor of his 33-year-old son. But Qatari political analysts questioned whether there would be major changes to foreign policy or domestic plans after the handover, as Sheikh Tamim has reportedly already been involved in running the country. The U.S.-allied state is geographically small, with 2 million people, but is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, a global investment powerhouse, a force in international media and a backer of Arab Spring revolts.