Qatar Geopolitics

Qatar Geopolitics

According to Countryaah, Qatar is one of the most dynamic and innovative realities in the world. Fifty years ago it represented a small and semi-unknown realm, considered the ‘little brother’ of the Gulf oil monarchies. Although Qatar already boasted a per capita income of more than 35,000 dollars, it did not enjoy the same political and diplomatic weight that surrounded the Saudis, and the country seemed destined to remain a satellite of Riyadh for a long time. Things changed in the second half of the nineties when the former emir Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani decided to support projects aimed at exploiting the huge gas field (an energy resource then considered inexpensive) located off the Qatari coast., the largest in the world. In the 2000s, Qatar became the world’s largest exporter of liquid gas and its own GDP went from 8 to 192 billion dollars.

By exploiting his huge financial resources, the emir has therefore initiated a transformation of the country’s image abroad which has gradually led to the association of the name of Qatar with luxury, innovation and sport. The emirate has become one of the largest investors in the world, with assets held by the sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, estimated at between $ 100 and $ 200 billion. The funds were directed on high profile choices, from Barclays to Shell, passing through the City financial institution in London and for brands such as Chanel, Valentino and Porsche. A sports lover, al-Thani has also embarked on sporting adventures, buying the football teams of Paris Saint Germain and Malaga. Doha has also managed to become one of the most important artistic centers in the world within a few years. The small emirate achieved a great return in image and soft power with the opening of the all-news satellite channelpan-Arab, al-Jazeera. Since its birth in 1997, the television broadcaster has offered for the first time a space in which commentators from all over the Arab world could meet and, especially in the period of the second Intifada (of which al-Jazeera was able to offer an exemplary report coverage), has become the symbol of Qatar in the world.

Symbol of the influence acquired by Doha is the assignment to Qatar of the organization of the 2022 World Cup, an important international showcase. On the international scene, Qatar has also managed to establish itself for its diplomatic activism, sometimes with ambiguous contours. Over the years the emirate has tried to mediate in the hottest international conflicts, from Sudan to Afghanistan via Palestine. In 2008, Doha was also the site of the most important summit for the resolution of the internal political crisis in Lebanon and, subsequently, it mediated in the internal confrontation in Yemen, between the Shiite factions and the central government of Sana’a. Qatari diplomacy went as far as the African continent, where Doha was the guarantor of the talks for the definition of the borders between Eritrea and Djibouti. During and after the ‘Arab Springs’, Qatar became one of the major sponsors of the International Muslim Brotherhood, supporting its various local ramifications from Egypt to Syria. On the domestic front, Qatar is structured internally as an absolute monarchy, in which power is concentrated in the hands of the ruling family, the al-Thani. Following the resignation of Hamad, an unprecedented event in the history of the Gulf monarchies, since 25 June 2013 his son Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has been in power, whose succession was far from obvious, being the fourth son and not of the firstborn. The emir exercises the functions of head of state. Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser al-Thani also belongs to the ruling family. In 2008, a new constitution came into force which for the first time provides for the popular election of two thirds of the parliament, whose members are now appointed by the emir. However, the elections for the renewal of the Consultative Assembly – which should simultaneously increase from the current 35 members to 45 – have not yet been held and the parliament continues to exert a completely marginal influence on the life of the country.

Qatar Geopolitics

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