Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (Arabic: الشيخ حمد بن خليفة آل ثاني, born 1 January 1952) is the ruling Emir of the State of Qatar since 1995. Sheikh Hamad was the appointed Heir Apparent of Qatar between 1977 and 1995 and at the same time Minister of Defense. In the early 1980s he led the Supreme Planning Council, which sets the Qatar's basic economic and social policies. Starting in 1992, Hamad had a growing responsibility for the day-to-day running of the country, including the development of Qatar's oil and natural gas resources. On 27 June 1995, after deposing his father in a palace coup, Sheikh Hamad became Emir of Qatar and was crowned on 20 June 2000.
Sheikh Hamad began his education in Qatar and later attended Sandhurst Military Academy in England. Upon his graduation in 1971, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Qatari armed forces and commanded the 1st Mobile Battalion, which has since been designated the "Hamad Mobile Battalion" in his honor.
Hamad was later promoted to the rank of Major General and appointed Commander in Chief of the Qatari Armed Forces. He oversaw an extensive program to modernize Qatar's military, increasing manpower, creating new units, updating weaponry, and improving training.
In the early 1980s, Hamad led the Supreme Planning Council, which sets the Qatar's basic economic and social policies. Starting in 1992, Hamad's father handed over responsibility for the day-to-day running of the country, including the development of Qatar's oil and natural gas resources. With the support of his family, Sheikh Hamad took control of the country in 1995 while his father was on vacation abroad. While his father Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani was in Geneva, Switzerland, Hamad bin Khalifa deposed him in a bloodless 1995 coup d'état. Hamad bin Khalifa engaged an American law firm to freeze his father's bank accounts abroad, thereby defeating a possible countercoup. Thereafter, his father lived in exile in France and Abu Dhabi until he returned to Qatar in 2004.
The Emir is considered to be progressive among leaders of Muslim countries. In a break with the traditional role, his second wife Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned has been a visible advocate for education and children's causes.
A sportsman and an accomplished diver, Hamad has played an active role in promoting and developing athletics in Qatar. His activism has enhanced the country's involvement and performance in a number of international competitions, including: winning an Olympic medal in track and field; hosting a wide variety of international sporting events such as the 15th Asian Games, GCC, Asian and World Youth soccer championships; and initiating the Qatar Open Tennis Championship which has grown to become one of two premier tennis competitions in the Middle East.
Under his rule the Qatari government helped to fund the Al Jazeera news network, funding it by an emiri decree. In an analysis of Al Jazeera, Hugh Miles claimed that diplomats from other countries know that the Emir is the real power behind Al Jazeera but he also quotes a network spokesman denying 'countless times' this accusation, adding that many independent news sources also have subsidies from their respective governments without this implying editorial dabbling and explaining that trying to coerce the kind of journalists Al Jazeera has would be like trying to 'herd cats'. Sheik Hamad is a distant cousin of the network chairman, Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, who was previously Minister of Information in the Emir Al-Thani government. Following the initial US$137 million grant from Emir Al-Thani, Al Jazeera had aimed to become self-sufficient through advertising by 2001, but when this failed to occur, the Emir agreed to several consecutive loans on a year-by-year basis (US$30 million in 2004, according to Arnaud de Borchgrave). At an 3 October 2001 press conference, Colin Powell tried to persuade Sheik Hamad to shut down Al Jazeera while The New York based organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting commented that in those efforts, "Powell and other U.S. officials were reportedly upset by the channel re-airing old interviews with bin Laden and the inclusion of guests that are too critical of the United States on its programs." The Washington Post reported in 2005 that Sheik Hamad was under pressure to privatize the network.
The emir made a generous donation for the relief of New Orleans following the 2005 Hurricane Katrina.
In 2012, the emir proposed deploying Arab troops to reduce killings in the Syrian civil war.
He has provided two military bases for foreign troops, Al Udeid Air Base and Camp As Sayliyah.
Despite the prevalence of anti-Israel sentiment within the Arab world, he has maintained friendly relations with Israel. He met Foreign Minister of Israel Tzipi Livni (25 September 2007) in New York. This marks the first real attempt by any leader in the Persian Gulf to pursue dialogue with Israel. He does object to Israeli settlement policy, especially the Judaization of Jerusalem.
Landmark visit to Gaza
In October 2012, the emir made a landmark visit to Gaza, the first head of state to go there since the 2006 election of Hamas and the imposition of a blockade by Israel. He took a flight to Egypt before being driven into Gaza. When there, the emir was thought to be launching a $254 million reconstruction project in the territory, and giving an address to the Palestinian people. Palestine's interior ministry was said to have a "well-prepared plan" to provide security for the emir during his stay. Incidents nevertheless continued.
Marriages and children
Sheikh Hamad has three wives and twenty-four children, eleven sons and thirteen daughters:
- He married his first wife H.H. Sheikha Mariam bint Muhammad Al-Thani, who is the daughter of his first cousin, Sheikh Muhammad bin Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Thani  Hamad and his first wife have two sons and six daughters:
- H.E. Sheikh Mishaal bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (born 1972)
- H.E. Sheikh Fahd bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikha Aisha bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikha Hussah bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikha Sara bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani – Program Coordinator for Reach Out to Asia-Qatar (ROTAQ)
- H.E. Sheikha Rawdah bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikha Fatima bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikha Mashael bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- His second wife is H.H. Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Misnad (born 8 August 1959, Al-Khor), the daughter of Nasser bin Abdullah Al Missned. Together they have five sons and two daughters:
- H.H. Sheikh Jasim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (born 1978) – Heir Apparent of Qatar before 2003
- H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Crown Prince of Qatar (born 1980) – Heir Apparent of Qatar since 2003
- H.E. Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (born 1983)
- H.E. Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (born 1985)
- H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (born 1988)
- H.E. Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (born 1991)
- H.E. Sheikha Hind bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani – director of the Emir’s Office since 2009
- Hamad also has a third wife, H.H. Sheikha Noora bint Khalid Al-Thani, daughter of H.E. Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani, who was the Minister of the Interior. Together they have four sons and five daughters:
- H.E. Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (born 1978)
- H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani – president of the Al-Rayyan Sports Club
- H.E. Sheikh Thani bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikh Al-Qaqa bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikha Lulwaa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikha Maha bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikha Dana bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikha Al-Anood bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
- H.E. Sheikha Mariam bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
Titles, styles and honours
Titles and styles
- Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (1952–1972)
- His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (1972–1977)
- His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Heir Apparent of Qatar (1977–1995)
- His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar (1995–present)
Honours and awards
Sheikh Hamad received numerous honours and awards, both during and before his time as Emir:
- Albania: Skanderbeg's Order (decorated by President of Albania Bamir Topi on 18 October 2011)
- Ivory Coast Ivory Coast: Collar of the Greater Star (2002)
- Croatia: Knight Grand Cross of the Grand Order of King Tomislav (2009)
- Cuba: Member of the Order of José Marti (2000)
- Dominican Republic: Grand Cross with Gold Breast Star of the Order of Merit of Duarte, Sanchez and Mella (2008)
- Egypt: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Nile
- Finland: Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the White Rose of Finland (2007)
- France: Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (1998)
- France: Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour (1980)
- Germany: Grand Cross 1st class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1999)
- Greece: Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (2007)
- Indonesia: Piagam Tanda Kehormatan (1977)
- Italy: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (2000)
- Jordan: Collar of the Order of al-Hussein bin Ali (1995)
- Lebanon: Grand Cordon of the National Order of the Cedar (2000)
- Lebanon: Grand Cordon of the Lebanese Order of Merit (1986)
- Macedonia: Order of 8 September (2011)
- Malta: National Order of Merit
- Morocco: Member Special Class of the Order of the Mohammediya (2002)
- Morocco: Member 1st Class of the Order of the Mohammediya (1986)
- Netherlands: Grand Cross of Order of the Netherlands Lion (March 2011)
- Oman: Member of the Order of Merit (Oman) (Wisam al-Asthaq, 1995)
- Oman: Member Special Class of the Order of Oman (Wisam Al-Sharif Al-Oman, 1975)
- Pakistan: Nishan-e-Pakistan (1999)
- Portugal: Grand Officer of the Order of Infante D. Henrique (2009)
- Romania: Sash rank of the Order of the Star of Romania (1999)
- Saudi Arabia: Member Special Class of the Order of Abdulaziz al Saud (1976)
- Senegal: Grand Cross of the Order of the National Lion (1998)
- Tunisia: Medal of 7 November (1997)
- United Kingdom: Honourary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG, 1976)
- Venezuela: Grand Collar of the Order of the Liberator (2010)
- Venezuela: Recipient of the Order of Francisco de Miranda (1977)
- Yemen: Recipient of the Order of Republic (2000)
- Albania: Honorary Citizen of Tirana, capital of Albania (12 October 2011)
- IAAF: Golden Order of Merit (2005)
Media sources claimed that Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani made a bid for Manchester United on 11 February 2011. Qatari Holdings offered £1.6 billion to Malcolm Glazer, the current American owner of the club. This follows a series of endeavors by the Emir and other Qataris into the World Football community, following Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 World Cup, and the Qatar Foundation's recent £125m shirt deal with FC Barcelona. In mid-June 2011, rumours resurfaced that Qatari Holdings were preparing a £2 Billion takeover bid and that the funding, that the club had been using for transfers since the start of June, was actually supplied by the Qataris and not the Glazer Family. In 2012 it was rumoured that Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani was in bid for Rangers F.C.. On 30 March 2012 sheik Al Thani offered to buy KF Tirana, although the details aren't published yet.
- Windfuhr, Volkhard; Zand, Bernhard (29 March 2009). "SPIEGEL Interview with the Emir of Qatar – 'We Are Coming to Invest'". Spiegel.de (Der Spiegel). http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,616130,00.html. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
- Cohen, Noam (1 January 2009). "Al Jazeera provides an inside look at Gaza conflict". http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/technology/11iht-jazeera.4.19256575.html. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
- "Sheikh Hamad's Biography". Amiri Diwan (State of Qatar). http://www.diwan.gov.qa/english/the_amir/the_amir_cv.htm.
- Harman, Danna (5 March 2007). "Backstory: The royal couple that put Qatar on the map". Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0305/p20s01-wome.html/%28page%29/2. Retrieved 10 November 2010. "He was of a new generation, open to the sorts of social, technological, economic, and political ideas from outside that his elders had never known. And, surrounding himself with young, Western-educated advisers, the new emir got right down to the business of remaking the national agenda of this traditional Wahhabi land."
- "Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Emir" (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Current Leaders of Nations. Gale. 1998. GALE<nowki>. http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/bic1/ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?displayGroupName=Reference&disableHighlighting=false&prodId=BIC1&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=&documentId=GALE%7CK1610000166&mode=view&userGroupName=fairfax_main&jsid=f37eaa4c06172a6eac8bf7d9deb7f23b. Retrieved 2012-03-02. Gale Biography In Context. (subscription required)
- Sakr, Naomi (2001). Satellite Realms: Transnational Television, Globalization & the Middle East. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 57. http://books.google.com/books?id=2nQGqvPaEb0C&pg=PA57.
- Miles, Hugh (2005). Al-Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel that is Challenging the West. New York: Grove Press. p. 346. http://books.google.com/books?id=Gp0Kx76Ovc4C&pg=PA346. Books.Google.com
- de Borchgrave, Arnaud (6 May 2004). "Tutwiler's mission impossible". Washington Times. Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060427171936/http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20040506-085117-7996r.htm. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
- Colin Powell, news conference with Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Thani, 3 October 2001, Washington D.C.
- Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (December 2001). "Patriotism & Censorship:"Reining in" journalism". http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1089.
- Vedantam, Shankar (31 January 2005). "Qatar Advances Plans To Privatize Al-Jazeera". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A49759-2005Jan30.html. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
- Nossiter, Adam (30 April 2008). "Emir of Qatar Tours New Orleans to See Fruit of His $100 Million Donation". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/30/us/nationalspecial/30emir.html. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
- "Emir of Qatar favors Arab troops in Syria". CBS News. 13 January 2012. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57359014/emir-of-qatar-favors-arab-troops-in-syria/. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
- Israel Foreign Minister and the Emir of Qatar (ENGLISH). IsraelConsulate. 26 Sep 2007. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAabrqG8UPg&feature=related. Retrieved 2012-03-02. "Israel Foreign Minister meets with the emir of Qatar in new york city. The interview is translated to english."
- Benhorin, Yitzhak (25 September 2007). "Livni has surprise meeting with Qatari emir". Ynetnews: Israel at Your Fingertips. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3453593,00.html. Retrieved 2012-03-01. "Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Tuesday, in the highest-ranking meeting between Qatari and Israeli officials. The two met during a United Nations General Assembly summit in New York after the emir invited Livni and the Israeli delegation to join him in an unscheduled meeting outside of the UN headquarters. Officials said the meeting was "extremely positive." Livni discussed with the emir the importance of moderate Islamic nations – like Qatar – supporting the Palestinians in advancing the diplomatic process."
- "Qatar emir: Arab identity in Jerusalem at risk". CBS News. 26 February 2012. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501713_162-57385307/qatar-emir-arab-identity-in-jerusalem-at-risk/?tag=mncol;lst;9. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
- "Qatari emir in historic Gaza visit". Al Jazeera. 23 October 2012. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/10/2012102353137370247.html. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- "Qatar ruler set for landmark visit to Gaza". BBC News. 23 October 2012. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-20037203. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- "Gaza blast ahead of Qatari's visit". Evening Herald. 23 October 2012. http://www.herald.ie/breaking-news/world-news/gaza-blast-ahead-of-qataris-visit-3269945.html. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- "Order received". website Amiri Diwan. http://www.diwan.gov.qa/english/the_amir/the_amir_awardsreceived.htm.
- Presidenti Topi pret Emirin e Shtetit të Katarit, Sheikun Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, President of Albania (in Albanian)
- President Topi bestows the Gjergj Kastrioti Order upon Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Al Thani
- Koningin zegt het met parels in Qatar – website of the Algemeen Dagblad (Dutch)
- Recipients of the order (Excel sheet) – website of the Romanian President
- Municipality of Tirana (in Albanian)
- ESPNsoccernet staff (11 February 2011). "Qataris close to buying United – report". SoccerNet. ESPN. http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/878771/qataris-close-to-buying-manchester-united-in-L1.6bn-deal---report?cc=5901. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
- "Barcelona agree record shirt deal". BBC News. 10 December 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/europe/9276343.stm.
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- "Familja e emirit të Katarit interesohet të blejë aksionet e Tiranës së futbollit". Panorama sport. 22 March 2012. http://www.panorama-sport.com/ballina/familja-e-emirit-te-katarit-interesohen-te-blejne-aksione-te-tirana-e-futbollit/.
- "Sheikh Hamad's Biography". Qatar Embassy. http://www.qatarembassy.net/emir.asp.