Nearly a year after leaving his post as prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani has broken his silence about the departure.
In an interview with American journalist Charlie Rose this week, Al Thani discussed the government transition, Qatar’s foreign policy and the Gulf country’s recently strained relationship with its neighbors. (The abbreviated non-Hulu link to the interview is here).
In response to questions from Rose, the former Qatar Investment Authority chairman acknowledged that he had “healthy” differences with other senior officials in Qatar. But he said rumors that he and Sheikha Moza (the former first lady and the Emir’s mother) had conflict were unfounded.
He also expressed full support for Qatar’s new Emir, and said he only left because it was time to step away from power. Asked about what Sheikh Tamim was like, he said:
“First of all he’s a serious guy. He’s clever -not a playboy. Third thing – he’s been trained by his father.”
He added that the Emir had been tested over the past four years and done extremely well, and as a citizen he believed he was the right choice as a leader.
Al Thani did not say what he has been up to over the past year, though he has been widely believed to be living outside of the country. He implied, however, that he may return to life as a businessman here.
“Yes, I am not poor,” he told Rose. “I’m rich.” But he added that his wealth did not come from his former political position, and instead his family and profession as a merchant.
The former politician also fielded questions about Qatar’s much-decried labor laws, saying:
“There is maybe some mistakes – but I can tell you during our time, and now, especially, the government is working hard to do what is needed to be done to have a good standard.”
He also denied that abuses such as late salary payments could be going on, as laws protect workers from such violations. Finally, Al Thani mused whether the intense international focus on Qatar was political, due to its hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
In terms of Qatar’s role in the international arena, Al Thani addressed a question about the country “punching above its weight” by saying “you can punch as much as you think you weigh.”
He insisted that Qatar played no favorites in countries that saw revolutions over the past few years, and instead backed whoever the people of those nations supported. For example, in Egypt, Al Thani said he was not fond of the Muslim Brotherhood, and added:
“We did not bring the Islamic Brotherhood to power in Egypt. They’ve been elected by the Egyptian people.”
In terms of Qatar, he said the local population numbers less than 300,000, and is content for now with its monarchy – though this may change in the coming decades, he added.
Moving on to the recent Gulf-wide dispute, Al Thani called for the acceptance of healthy disagreement in the region. But he also sought to reassure Rose that Qatar’s priority was maintaining good ties with its neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia. “I always tell them they are the main bone in our body,” he said.
Al Thani also talked about Syria, Palestine and Qatar’s relationship with the US, saying it was not in Doha’s interest to see Washington in trouble.
He added that the majority of Qataris have no problem with the US military base here, the largest such American installation in the region.
Finally, he said Qatar and other resource rich Gulf nations need to plan for a future in which its revenues do not depend so much on oil and gas, especially as countries like the US are moving to become energy independent.
This guy is delusional. He says that the laws protect workers from late payments?
“He also denied that abuses such as late salary payments could be going on, as laws protect workers from such violations”
He is so out of touch that it is definitely a good thing that he is not serving that post anymore. He was more than likely part of the problem that perpetuated that situation. Now he will retire with his wealth and care nothing for the people that suffered under his finger. If Sharia law is done under the guise if Allah then how dose this continue?
I am impressed. I remember from the days that sh Hamad Became emir. His years as Minister & PM of the country, and never liked him. Matter of fact I used to call him the bulldozer. But this interview showed me that he has grown a lot and become a wise man. Mabrouk.
He was a wise man from day one, or else why would HH the Father Emir choose him.
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer…….
Of course relatives attempting coups in the Arab world never happens, so I guess I don’t know what I am talking about
He’s not from a ruling branch in Al-Thani family, you definitely don’t know what you’re talking about.
Yeah like that has ever stopped anyone launching a coup around the world.
not in qatar.. you can’t just get and decide i want a coup with no military … all rulers in qatar from the al thani family of a certain sect
“coups in the Arab world” .. “a coup around the world” .. make up your mind. Not even the Arab world is comparable to Qatar, coups in Egypt for example are not similar to those in Qatar. No matter how you twist it, you still gave a false accusation.
Wait a second here; how is hulu working here? I thought their service isn’t available in Qatar?
Most of Hulu requires a VPN to watch from here, Charlie rose is open to us…
Whats going on here. Is there extra censorship happening with this story? That’s OK. Facebook will let me say what ever I want. Ha!
Interesting…..we need more open healthy interviews of such personalities in the GCC regions
His frankness always make his interviews interesting and informative.
Seems like a very intelligent and well spoken man
probably the only honest arabic politican .. good or bad.. he spoke his mind..
Come on! Let’s not exaggerate. May be in the region, but definitely not in the whole Arab world.
then who is ..
Countries like Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon to name a few are way freer than Qatar, and most of their politicians are vocal and straightforward. There is no way you would compare politicians here with them.
I think you’re mixing up politicians with citizens.
Nope. I am talking about politicians 🙂
Perhaps you could name those politicians you speak of to prove your point? Maybe give us examples of things they dared say which no one else was willing to speak about openly.
President Marzouki from Tunisia, former PM Hamadi Jebali from Tunisia, PM Ben Kirane from Morocco, just to name a few. Obviously, you have to have some idea about politics in these countries to have an informed opinion 🙂
One can wonder why this interview was given and why now.
He said it in the interview, he promised the guy
Yes but how can one believe anything when we read –
“He also denied that abuses such as late salary payments could be going on, as laws protect workers from such violations.”
So that’s OK then.
growth of qatar credit goes to him and his emir father
He’s against the Islamic Botherhood…. I agree with him.