The former Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani oversaw the emergence of Qatar as a major player on the world stage. With an estimated 15% of the world’s known gas reserves, this tiny emirate (local population of 250,000) boasts the highest per capita income in the world ($100,000). A sovereign wealth fund of $85 billion has been used to propel projects like: the Qatar Foundation, Al Jazeera, hosting the 2022 football world cup, arts, property investment around the world, and many more. On June 25, 2013 he abdicated the throne to his son, Sheik Tamim.
Qatar has become a player on the global stage. Politically, It has been at the forefront of the response to the Libyan Conflict and even sent its planes alongside those of NATO’s to enforce the no-fly zone. On the media front, it funds the hugely influential satellite television network Al Jazeera. In the sports world, it has gained worldwide recognition by winning the bid to host the 2022 soccer World Cup. Another major boost is the Qatar Foundation’s sponsorship of the world’s most successful football team, Barcelona.
According to Global Finance, Qatar is the richest country in the world with a GDP per capita of $90,149. It is the top exporter of liquefied natural gas, and the site of the third largest natural gas reserves in the world. During Sheikh Hamad’s rein, the country has developed one of the fastest growing economies in the Middle East. Recently, Sheikh Hamad signed a $500 million investment deal with Turkey for agriculture, food, and stockbreeding development. He has also invested billions toward infrastructure, real estate and educational initiatives for Qatar.
Sheikh Hamad has been recognized in Forbes Magazine’s list of the wealthiest royals in the world with a net worth of $2 billion. What makes him markedly influential, however, is his strategic charitable giving. In February, 2010 Qatar successfully sponsored a peace deal between the rebel Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese government—pledging $1 billion to reconstruction efforts in Darfur which involve establishing a development bank in Sudan.
Patron of the Arts
Sheikh Hamad is noted for his love of the arts. In 2008, he inaugurated the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, boasting exclusive collections of Islamic artifacts from across the globe collected over a period of 20 years. Acclaimed architect I.M. Pei was commissioned to design the award-winning landmark structure on an island off Doha Bay.
We are trying to create a Qatari standard: you want us to deal with you, this is our standard; you win, we win, and we go for the long term