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Qatar ruler hands power to son to mark ‘new era’



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No major changes in direction also are expected on Qatar’s investment strategies, although Sheik Tamim may redirect more resources to domestic projects as vital gas exports level off, said Rachel Ziemba, a London-based analyst at Roubini Global Economics.

Qatar has the world’s third-largest gas reserves, but has mounting bills to cover development plans such as a new seaport and projects to prepare for the World Cup.

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"There is more need to spend money at home — big budget projects, infrastructure," Ziemba said.

Meanwhile, Qatar has faced criticism from rights groups for joining the Gulf-wide crackdowns on perceived dissent since the Arab Spring. In one of the most high-profile cases, Qatari authorities jailed a poet whose verses included admiration for the uprisings. In February, the sentence against the poet, Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, was reduced from life to 15 years.

Christopher Davidson, an expert in Gulf affairs at Britain’s Durham University, believes some of the tough measures by Qatari officials reflect internal squabbles with hard-liners trying to exert their influence. Such groups could be among the first housecleaning targets by the new emir, he predicted.

"Tamim is seen as focused on domestic issues first," said Davidson. "One of the main tasks will be to establish a new social contract with the population ... What kind of opposition is allowed and what is not will be part of that."

In Tehran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araghchi told reporters that Iran supports any moves by Qatar that bring "peace and tranquility" for the region. Relations between the two nations have deteriorated over Syria, where Tehran remains strongly on the side of key ally Bashar Assad.




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