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Qatar's emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (left)?is to transfer power in the small but conomically powerful Gulf nation to his son Sheikh Tamim ...

Qatar's emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (left)?is to transfer power in the small but conomically powerful Gulf nation to his son Sheikh Tamim Doha (AFP): The emir of gas-rich Qatar, a major actor on the world diplomatic stage, abdicated in favour of his 33-year-old son Sheikh Tamim on Tuesday, in a first for the Arab world. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, 61, hands over a small but economically strong Gulf state that has punched above its weight in recent years and has become a key role player in Arab Spring uprisings.
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"I announce handing the rule over to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani," the emir said in a televised speech. The decision marks the "beginning of a new era in which a young leadership will hold the banner," he added. Sheikh Hamad, who used Qatar's immense gas wealth to drive its modernisation, came to power in a coup in which he overthrew his own father Sheikh Khalifa in June 1995. His decision to abdicate sees Tamim propelled into the youngest sovereign of any of the Gulf Arab monarchies. The occasion was marked by the declaration of today as a public holiday.
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