The report highlights some of the Qatari leader’s many accomplishments, both domestically and internationally.
Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has been named as the most influential Muslim by Jordan-based “The Muslim 500”.
The report lists 50 influential Muslim personalities on an annual basis, with the amir topping the list for this year, followed by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was ranked as the first.
The report, published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, an independent research entity, listed key achievements by the Qatari leader, from diplomacy, boosting the country’s economy, as well as leading historic reform in issues pertaining to migrant workers.
“With the amir enjoying good international relations and continuing foreign investment, Qatar has positioned itself into the role of regional peace broker…it has adopted a strong position of proactive engagement through dialogue with regional neighbours,” said the Jordanian institute.
The institute listed some of Qatar’s mediating roles, from the Taliban talks with the US to indirect negotiations between Washington and Tehran to restore the 2015 nuclear deal.
Qatar has also expressed its openness in holding a regional dialogue with Iran and offered to broker the negotiations.
The Gulf state is also hosting talks between Chadian politico-military sides in an effort to break N’Djamena’s political deadlock.
It also hosted a high-level Arab League meeting in June last year, where diplomats discussed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute between Egypt and Sudan on one side, and Ethiopia on the other.
Domestically, Sheikh Tamim introduced the country’s first legislative elections in October, 2021, where eligible Qataris were able to vote in members of the Shura Council for the first time in its history.
The move was seen by analysts as a closer step towards democracy.
Doha’s resilience also came under the global spotlight during the days of the 2017 GCC crisis, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on Qatar.
The quartet had accused the Gulf state of supporting terrorism – claims that Qatar has vehemently denied and slammed as baseless.
Before the crisis, Qatar relied on imported goods for more than 80 percent of its food, which prompted it to provide alternative products for its population and in turn growing its self-sufficiency.
Qatar has also positioned itself as a leading exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG) and is currently moving to dominate global exports under the North Field expansion project.
Under the first phase of the $28.75 billion project, Qatar is raising its LNG production from 77 million tonnes to 110 million tonnes by 2025, representing a 43% increase. The second part of the project, the biggest of its kind, will ramp up Qatar’s LNG production to 126 million tonnes by 2027.
Meanwhile, the Qatari leader was praised for the way his country managed the Covid-19 outbreak, a virus that took the world by surprise and disrupted daily life.
“Strong and swift measures including lockdown, school closures and travel restrictions. Widespread disinfecting procedures were instigated and healthcare upgraded. Approximately 80% of the population has been vaccinated,” said the report.
Beyond the impact on the health sector, the Gulf state’s economy was able to quickly recover from the impact of the pandemic.
In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the Qatari economy is expected to see a rise of 3.4% in 2022. In another press release in March, the IMF underlined that Qatar’s swift and decisive response to the Covid-19 crisis has “dampened its health and economic impact and paved the way for a speedy recovery.”
Qatar is also the first Arab and Muslim country to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Since winning the bid in 2010, Qatar has led major local projects to welcome at least 1.5 million fans. According to the report, the country’s estimated spending on construction projects amounts to more than $200 billion.
However, authorities in Qatar have also faced public scrutiny for the issues related to human rights violations against migrant workers, especially those working on World Cup construction sites. However, the Gulf state has responded by introducing historic reform.
This includes the dismantling of the controversial Kafala system and the introduction of the region’s first minimum wage law.
The Kafala system had stopped workers from freely changing jobs. However, some employers have continued to fail to abide by the law, posing challenges for employees navigating the process.
According to a UN International Labour Organization (ILO) report, some workers also face retaliation from their employers when changing their jobs.
In 2021, the region’s first non-discriminatory minimum-wage law came into force, which established a monthly minimum wage of QAR 1,000. The law also includes the basic living allowances for select workers.
Employers who fail to comply with the law will face a one-year jail sentence and a QAR 10,000 fine.
Despite the introduction of laws aimed at protecting workers, Qatari authorities said that its progress has been largely dismissed and ignored by critics.
In May, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said most of the criticism has come mainly due to the west’s struggle to accept the idea of an Arab state hosting such an event.
“For decades now, the Middle East has suffered from discrimination. And I have found that such discrimination is largely based on people not knowing us, and in some cases, refusing to get to know us,” the amir told the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
Who made the list?
1. Tamim bin Hamid Al-Thani
2. Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud
3. Ayatollah Hajj Sayyid Ali Khamenei
4. Recep Tayyip Erdogan
5. Abdullah II Ibn-Al-Hussen
6. Muhammad Taqi Usmani
7. HM King Mohammed VI
8. Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
9. Sayyid Ali Hussein Sistani
10. Imran Khan
11. Habib Umar bin Hafiz
12. Salman Al-Ouda
13. Joko Widodo
14. Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb
15. Muhammad bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud
16. Abdullah bin Bayyah
17. Muhammadu Buhari
18. Muhammad Sa’adu Abubakar III
19. Said Aqil Siradj
20. Ali Gomaa