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QATAR - The Line Of Succession.

On Aug. 5, 2003, Shaikh Hamad appointed his fourth and youngest son, Tamim, as crown prince to replace his third son Jassim, 27, who had taken up this post on Oct. 23, 1996. An exceptionally bright young man now aged 26 Shaikh Tamim graduated as a military officer from Britain's prestigious academy Sandhurst, like Jassim. Jassim, an excellent talker with ambition, was forced to step down because he wanted more powers and the emir was upset by his behaviour. Jassim is a brilliant person fluent in English and French (see Vol. 57, OMT 12). Before Jassim, the heir apparent was Shaikh Hamad's first son, Shaikh Mishaal who was named to that post on June 30, 1995 and was then aged 29. Until then, Mishaal used to work in the foreign ministry and led numerous diplomatic missions abroad. Mishaal is from Shaikh Hamad's first wife, whereas Shaikhs Jassim and Tamim are from the emir's favourite wife Shaikha Mouza.

Shaikh Hamad's second son, Shaikh Fahd, now aged about 38, achieved prominence after he fought with Qatari forces against Iraqi troops at Khafji (the Kuwaiti-Saudi Divided Zone) during the Gulf war in early 1991.

Tamim had appeared next to his father during Shaikh Hamad's negotiations with Saudi Arabia to resolve their border dispute in 2001. On Sept. 2, 2003, Shaikh Hamad made Tamim deputy commander-in-chief of the armed forces. This indicated the emir may let his fourth son act as a defence minister. Qatar has no defence minister; the emir is responsible for that job. In addition, Shaikh Tamim is president of the Qatar National Olympic Committee (QNOC) and chairman of the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC). The Doha Asian games will be the largest gathering in Middle East sporting history. About 10,000 athletes from 44 nations will compete in more than 30 disciplines for almost 400 gold medals. At least 20,000 foreign and Arab visitors will travel to Qatar to watch the games in December 2006. Preparations for the event include an athletes' village being built in central Doha next to the Hamad General Hospital to accommodate more than 10,000 people, a major upgrade and expansion of the 26-year-old Khalifa Sports City, and construction of the $200m Qatar Sports Complex.

DAGOC has a five-member board headed by Shaikh Tamim. The members include Energy & Industry Minister Attiyah, Finance Minister Yousef Hussein Kamal, and Municipal Affairs & Agriculture Minister Sultan bin Hassan al-Dhabit al-Dousari.

Under Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa, the decision makers are pragmatic, young and bold. They are far more liberal than their predecessors. Women are playing an important role in the decision making process.

Shaikha Mouza Bint Nasser Al Misnad, the second of the emir's three wives and mother of Jassim and Tamim, is an intelligent and bold feminist. Well educated, she has been inspiring the emir since he married her in the late 1970s. It was thanks to her that Hamad has appointed women to senior government posts and has allowed females to vote or become candidates in municipal or the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Shaikh Hamad first got a woman to be appointed as a deputy minister of education, when a new cabinet was formed in October 1996. Several women have since held key positions in the government and in state-controlled organisations. Their role encourages other women to be active in the country's administrative and political fields.

Shaikha Mouza chairs the Qatar Foundation (QF), a charitable entity created in the second half of 1995 by Shaikh Hamad. QF controls the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, which is having an Education City in Doha and among its various projects are prominent programmes involving some of the world's most prestigious educational insitutions.

Shell, investing $10 bn in integrated gas E&P and GTL/LNG ventures in Qatar, will set up a $100m training and research facility to focus on GTL technologies at QF's Science and Technology Park (STP) in early 2006. Abdullah al-Qubaisi, member of the QF's board of directors, and Linda Cook, executive director of Shell Gas and Power, signed the agreement for this in February 2005.

The facility, dubbed Qatar Shell Research and Training Centre with a 10-year lease from the QF, will be part of Shell's global research and technology organisation. It will initially focus on upstream and GTL technologies, technical services and a related training centre. The activities will concentrate on developing and utilising technology for sophisticated modelling of subsurface reservoirs to enhance utilisation of oil and natural gas resources. In addition, Shell will work on developing new technology to enhance production from oil and gas fields. Jeroen van der Veer, the Shell CEO, has said the company expects the facility to become one of its centres of excellence in the world. Shaikha Mouza said the partnership with Shell will contribute to the development of significant new technologies in the energy field at the STP.

Shaikha Mouza has been behind this city's first project, the Weill Medical College, set up with the help of Cornell University of New York under an accord announced on April 9, 2001. The college was completed in late 2004, when the first medical class began. The Education City will include schools from pre-kindergarten to post-graduate students, the College of Technology, specialised training in design arts and languages, and sporting facilities. The Weill College follows the Cornell curriculum and offers a complete medical education leading to a Cornell University degree. It is based on the same admissions standards as the New York campus of Cornell. QF is spending $750m for the running of the Weill College over 11 years, including a fee to Cornell, and an additional donation

When the Weill Medical College project was announced on April 9, 2001 in New York, Cornell's President Hunter Rawlings 3rd said: "Some of our Jewish trustees and alumni were especially concerned. But as they learned more about Qatar and its ambitions, they were willing to proceed". He said the college will accept Jews - "even Israelis" - as faculty members and students. QF's Managing Director Abdel Redha Abdel Rahman then said: "We are bound to a non-discrimination policy and we will respect that. Entrance will be controlled by Cornell. This has nothing to do with nationalities. Anyone who is qualified is welcome". The initial phase of Cornell's medical school in Doha was opened in the autumn of 2002 and the ceremony was addressed by Shaikha Mouza. For the first time in Qatar's history, TV cameras could film the emir's wife. The mother of seven, in her early 40s, the Shaikha was wearing the traditional black abaya (robe) with a headscarf which enhanced her striking features and a stone-studded choker around her neck revealed a glamorous side.

In an interview published by the FT on Oct. 17, 2002, Shaikha Mouza noted that women in Qatar made up 60% of university graduates and 40% of the workforce and said: "It's not an issue here, we don't have separation between men and women". She insisted that polygamy will eventually disappear, adding: "Among the young generation, you don't see it as a problem. It's shari'ah (Islamic law), you can't prevent it but time will rationalise it" (see background in Vol. 61, DT No. 12).

Shaikha Mouza on Jan. 25, 2005 won her libel action against the UK-based Arab newspaper, Azzaman (or Az-Zaman) in a case which highlighted a long-running cold war between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The case, heard in the High Court of Justice in London, was filed in 2001, after Azzaman, edited by a Saudi-backed Iraqi who opposed Saddam's Baathist regime, ran a series of articles claiming Shaikha Mouza had interfered in political and security matters in Qatar and had secret dealings with Israel. According to a statement from Carter-Ruck, her lawyers, her legal team argued that Azzaman had been controlled by a "foreign power" which had used it as a mouthpiece to defame Qatar. Her lawyers said documents lodged with the courts showed Azzaman had been financed by Saudi intelligence and used for a propaganda campaign against Qatar.

The Shaikha, who has defied Saudi Arabia's conservative culture by playing a high-profile role in Qatar and leading efforts to attract US colleges to Qatar, received a [pounds sterling]500,000 out-of-court settlement. It was then said the funds will be donated to charity. Azzaman, which accepted that there had been no truth to the allegations of its stories, later published a front-page apology to the Shaikha.

The case underlined the tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar, a small and more liberal GCC state, has been keen to assert its independence, particularly in foreign policy, and establish itself as a rival to Saudi Arabia. In 1995 Qatar accused Saudi Arabia of backing an attempt to return the father of Shaikh Hamad to power. Saudi Arabia was later offended by broadcasts on Qatar's al-Jazeera TV channel, which features Saudi opposition figures. In October 2002, the Saudi government recalled its ambassador to Qatar "for consultations", in apparent protest over al-Jazeera.

In June 2004, QF embarked on one of the world's most ambitious medical projects. It was to spend $900m over four years to build a huge teaching hospital - and will provide an $8 bn endowment for staff to carry out world-class research there, as well as medical education and patient care.

The Specialty Teaching Hospital, as it is provisionally known, will become the centre-piece of Education City, a futuristic cluster of learning and research facilities emerging on the edge of Doha. The hospital is a partnership with Cornell and will have more than $200m a year to spend on research, concentrating initially on women's health and paediatric medicine.

Although Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich GCC states have invested heavily in Western-style hospitals, their emphasis has been on healthcare rather than research. Qatar will be different, says Mohammed Fathy Saud, who chairs the Specialty Teaching Hospital's Planning Committee. Dr. Saud adds: "Our object is to be a visible generator of knowledge for the world through our research programmes". He recalls that the Arab world was a pioneer in science and medicine in the middle ages but "for too long our region has just been consuming knowledge created by others".

Charles Young, former president of the University of Florida and chancellor of the University of California (Los Angeles), in 2004 became president of Qatar Foundation. His priority is "to recruit world-class senior staff", saying: "We can offer competitive [remuneration] and clinical research facilities that will be better than anywhere else in the world". Qatar is a different society to its Saudi counterpart and there is no hostility to westerners, says Dr Young, adding: "This is not a country of religious fundamentalism". Dr Young, one of the most respected US academic leaders, says he was attracted by the challenge of setting up from scratch a world-class research institution in a region without a modern scientific infrastructure.

Saeed bin Abdullah al-Misnad, a nephew of Shaikha Mouza, is CEO of state-controlled Qatar National Bank (QNB), which is by far the biggest bank in the emirate. QNB's Chairman is Finance Minister Yousef Hussein Kamal.

Al-Shaikha bint Abdullah al-Misnad, his sister, is and intellectual and president of the University of Qatar, with a Ph.D. Her sister, Dr. Lu'lu'a bint Abdullah al-Misnad, is the assistance secretary-general for industrial research and investment promotion at the Doha-based Gulf Organisation for Industrial Consulting.
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Publication:APS Review Downstream Trends
Date:Sep 19, 2005
Words:1886
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