Qatar in mourning after death of former leader

Qatar in mourning after death of former leader
2 min read
24 October, 2016
Three days of mourning has been announced after the death of former Qatari Emir Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani on Sunday.
Khalifa ruled Qatar from 1972 to 1995 [AFP]

Qataris are in mourning after the former Emir Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani died aged 84.

The former ruler, the grandfather of the current Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, died on Sunday, according to an official statement from the royal palace.

Qatar has announced three days mourning for the former emir.

During his time as leader from 1972 to 1995, he oversaw the transformation of modern-day Qatar into an energy-rich country - where the phenomenal wealth from gas an oil exports transformed the tiny Gulf state.

"His highness father Emir Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani passed away on the evening of Sunday 23 October 2016, at the age of 84 years," read the official statement.

"His highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has ordered public mourning across the country for three days."

No further details were given about the circumstances of his death.

Among the first officials to respond to the news in Doha was the Australian ambassador to Qatar Axel Wabenhorst, who tweeted his condolences to "the royal family and to all Qataris".

Many Qataris also took to social media to express their condolences.

Khalifa ruled Qatar until he was deposed by his son Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in a bloodless coup while on holiday in Switzerland.

He was one of the first rulers of Qatar after it gained independence from the UK in 1971, taking over power from a cousin, and was also seen as a founding father of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the political and economic union incorporating six states in the region.

Prior to becoming the emir, he served as Qatar's prime minister, finance minister and also the country's education minister.

After being removed from power, the former emir lived in France and returned to Qatar in 2004.

The former emir had four wives, five sons and 10 daughters. 

"May he rest in peace Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, the former Emir and one of the builders of the country. We ask God to bestow his mercy on him and to bless him for what he has done for his people and the Islamic nation," Yousef Qaradawi