KUWAIT CITY, Oct 24, (Agencies): His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of condolences Sunday to Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, on demise of Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al- Thani who passed away earlier, at the age of 84.
In his cable, His Highness the Amir prayed to Allah the Almighty to bestow His blessing upon Sheikh Khalifa’s soul. His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al- Hamad Al-Sabah sent similar cables. His Highness the Amir also sent a cable of condolences to Qatari Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, on demise of Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani. His Highness the Amir prayed to Allah the Almighty to bestow His blessing upon his soul and patience for his family and the Qatari people.
His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al- Hamad Al-Sabah sent similar cables. Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, who passed away Sunday evening at the age of 84, made remarkable achievements for his country and the Arab nation in the social, economic and political fields.
When he assumed power on Feb 22, 1972, he started empowering the government through adding new portfolios such as the ministries of foreign affairs, information and municipal affairs. The Qatari economy grew remarkable during his reign which lasted until June 27, 1995, thanks to the numerous oil and gas discoveries.
In 1991, Qatar exported its first consignment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Northern Gas Field, the world’s second biggest field. In 1981 he co-founded with the then leaders of the Arabian Gulf states the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which emerged as a key player in the international economic and political affairs. Under his leadership, Qatar played a great role in the military campaign to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion through committing 23 percent of its armed forces to the campaign which lasted between Feb 24 and 28, 1991. On the international scale, he managed to strengthen Qatar’s external ties through establishing diplomatic relations on the ambassadorial level with as many countries as possible. The demise of Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani is a great loss for Qatar and the Arab nation at large.
Meanwhile, Qatar began three days of mourning on Monday after the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, who oversaw the start of the country’s transformation into an energy powerhouse. Prayers took place at the national mosque after which the former ruler, who was deposed in a bloodless coup in 1995, was to be buried in Al Rayyan on the western fringes of Doha.
Flags on official buildings flew at half-mast, and Arabic- and Englishlanguage newspapers printed their front page coverage of the death in black and white. Many Qataris took to social media to express their condolences and the US Ambassador in Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, gave a statement to local media saying she was “saddened to learn of the passing”.
A state visit by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was due to go ahead on Monday, but a high-profile conference, involving senior FIFA and Qatar World Cup 2022 officials, scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled as a mark of respect. However, schools remained open and roads were busy.
The 84-year-old former ruler — grandfather of the current Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani — died on Sunday, Qatar News Agency said, without giving the cause. Sheikh Tamim ordered the official mourning period. Before becoming ruler, Khalifa served as Qatar’s prime minister and was then a pivotal figure as the tiny emirate established itself as a major global energy producer and subsequently one of the richest countries in the world. He took power from a cousin in February 1972, just months after Qatar gained independence from Britain. During his reign, the state-owned Qatar Petroleum was set-up in 1974, followed 10 years later by Qatar Gas, now the world’s largest liquefied natural gas company.
He was also seen as a founding father of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the political and economic union incorporating the six states in the region. But while on a private visit to Europe in 1995, Khalifa was deposed in a bloodless palace coup by his son, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who was defence minister at the time. One year after his removal, an apparent failed coup was launched in Qatar and 19 people were subsequently charged in what was the country’s biggest ever trial and sentenced to death for trying to return Khalifa to power.
Khalifa himself remained in exile for almost a decade, living in France before returning in 2004 to Qatar where he kept a low profile and was rarely seen in public. At the time he was deposed, Qatar’s population stood at around 490,000 people. Today, it is some 2.6 million, the majority of them foreigners. Sheikh Hamad remained in power until 2013, overseeing further extraordinary economic growth and securing Qatar the rights to host the 2022 football World Cup, before handing over to Sheikh Tamim. The former Amir had four wives, five sons and 10 daughters.