Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani had a big surprise in store for the entire Arab world. While at the height of power and influence after 18 turbulent years on the throne, the 61-year-old emir of Qatar handed power to his second son, Tamim, 33.
The first hint of the emir’s impending retirement was provided to Al Safir newspaper on June 11 by Muhammad Ballout. The news also appeared here in Al-Monitor. Many unanswered questions about the timing and reasons for the abdication have been raised since then, and up until the official announcement. Will the emir’s young son succeed in filling his father’s shoes and continuing his policies, which transformed the tiny emirate into a major influence in the Arab world?