Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, the former ruler of the tiny Gulf nation of Qatar, died on Sunday.
The royal court, announced the death of the 84-year-old former emir. The current ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the deceased ruler’s grandson, declared three days of mourning.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Abdullah bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani (17 September 1932 – 23 October 2016) was the Emir of Qatar from 27 February 1972 until he was deposed by his son Hamad bin Khalifa on 27 June 1995. He was the grandfather of the current Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
In 1957, Khalifa was appointed as Minister of Education. Then he was appointed as Deputy Emir. He was named as the heir apparent on 24 October 1960. In the 1960s he also served as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
On 22 February 1972, Sheikh Khalifa became the Emir of Qatar, seizing power from his cousin, Emir Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani. While many Western news outlets referred to it as an overthrow, the Qatari population merely considered it to be a succession of power. His initial activity was the process of the reorganization of the government. He also limited the financial privileges of members of the ruling family. Next, he appointed a foreign minister and an adviser to himself regarding the day-to-day affairs. On 19 April 1972, he amended the Constitution and expanded the Cabinet by appointing more ministers. Diplomatic relations were also established with a number of foreign countries at ambassadorial level.
Khalifa’s reorganization of the system of government saw a dramatic shift in the hierarchy of authority. He immensely reduced the traditional powers afforded to the heir-apparent while projecting all of the power onto himself.
On 18 July 1989, the cabinet was reshuffled for the first time, replacing most of the previous ministers and making it consist of 15 ministers. The Cabinet was again reshuffled under his premiership on 1 September 1992, expanding it to 17 members.
The state revenue from oil sector had increased as the result of the rising of a number of production sharing agreements with foreign oil companies. Two production-sharing agreements were signed with the Standard Oil Company of Ohio in January 1985 and Amoco in February 1986. In January 1989, another production sharing agreement was signed between Qatar and the French state-owned oil company Elf Aquitaine. In the middle of 1991, production of gas in the Qatar North Field, the world’s largest single field of non-associated gas (proven gas reserves of around 250 trillion cubic feet and probable reserves of 500 trillion cubic feet), commenced. While the search for finding more oil deposits in Qatar continued, Qatar built an industrial base in order to reduce dependence on the oil sector.
While Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani was staying in Geneva, Switzerland, in July 1995, his son Hamad bin Khalifa seized power. Khalifa lived in France until he returned to Qatar in 2004. He died on 23 October 2016, a week after entering hospital