Dateline was 20th September, 2022. Location was the hallowed platform of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States. Dressed in his fitted blazers suit with a marching tie, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the 42-year old Emir of Qatar mounted the rostrum to address the gathering. Though a range of issues he dwelled on, of significance was the strong advocacy Al-Thani put up for the betterment of the Palestinian people.
“The Security Council must shoulder its responsibility and must compel Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian territories and to establish a Palestinian state along the borders of 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital…At this juncture, I stress that we stand in full solidarity with the brotherly Palestinian people in their aspiration to achieve justice,” the Emir submitted to the greatest awe of every leader seated at the prestigious gathering.
For the Muslim world, the Palestinian dilemma is a global Islamic and human rights issue and Al-Thani has been a consistent advocate since ascension of power almost a decade ago. He has truthfully established himself as a revered global leader and a torchbearer, illuminating the path for others to follow. Indeed, the Palestinian issue is just one out of other muslim-affected issues Al-Thani dwelled on. In the same UN speech, the Emir highlighted other worrying issues plaguing Muslim-populated countries: Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Libya, Iran, Iraq, among others.
To his credit, the Qatari Emir can be described as the most known harbinger of peace in today’s Islamic world as he has on numerous occasions led his government to intervene in wars and conflicts as well as other issues that have caused or have the potentials in claiming the lives of millions of Muslims across the globe. He is known for possessing uncommon listening ears as he pays attention to the plights of the oppressed and Muslim minorities. Rather than pitching his tent in states of conflicts, Al-Thani will rather create avenues for dialogue, allowing both sides of the divide come to the table to discuss and find common grounds for peace and order.
The Emir’s approach – though misunderstood by some, including his Arab neighbours, to mean supporting the supposed terrorists or the acclaimed outlaws – has not only saved lives of innocents, but has also restored relative peace to many affected regions in the Middle East in particular and the muslim world in general. From West Bank to Kabul, Cairo to Baghdad, Khartoum to Naypyidaw, Tripoli to Tehran, Damascus to Sana’a, Beirut to Beijing, among other global capitals, Al-Thani has led the Qatari government to find peace for the global Muslim populace. And it is on this basis, that we at the Muslim News Nigeria shall be conferring the prestigious 2021 Global Muslim Personality Award (#MNAwards2021) on Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
A peep into the works of Al-Thani and the Qatari government
Like it is stated above, the numerous impressive works of the Qatari Emir span countries across the world with many of such efforts sparing millions of Muslim lives. Some of these shall be explored:
Palestine: Charting the path to statehood and lifting the oppressed
Qatar, under the leadership of Sheikh Tamim is foremost amidst the few Arab countries that are not only passionate but visibly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. The country has on several occasions publicly showed commitment to the establishment of an independent state where Palestinians will live in peace. Worried by the incessant aggressions of Israel in the besieged Gaza since 2007, Qatar has not only served as a go-between, between Tel-Aviv and Hamas in the Gaza Strip but has also continued to contribute hundreds of millions of Dollars in humanitarian and development aid to support Palestinians.
Emir of Qatar wins Global Muslim Personality of the Year 2021
Sheikh @TamimBinHamad has been declared the winner of the 2021 Global Muslim Personality by Nigeria’s most authoritative Islamic newspaper. @GulfTimes_QATAR @PeninsulaQatar @Qatar_Tribune @dohanews @QNAEnglish
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) October 22, 2022
One topical instance was how Qatar underwrote the rebuilding and provision of infrastructure and projects since the 2014 war between Palestine and Israel, providing hundreds of millions of Dollars to Gaza’s poorest families. The funds have been a key source of stability for the impoverished territory which has been described as the largest open prison in the world. Also, a reconstruction project was announced in August, 2022 by the leadership of Hamas after the recent operation of Israeli occupation forces in Gaza, leading to the death of 49, with over 300 sustaining varying degrees of injuries. The project is expected to be carried out via the Qatar Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
Qatar also extended the same support to Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank. Qatari Charity recently allocated $5 million within the framework of its ‘Help Palestine’ drive, to provide relief aid for the affected and the displaced in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem. The assistance included food packages, health services, personal hygiene kits to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, as well as medical aid and equipment for health centers and hospitals.
Like some of the Gulf nations, Qatar does not have any direct relationship with Israel, yet, Tel-Aviv is using its power to lobby US and FIFA to influence Qatar to allow her open a temporary consulate in Doha, in order to allow Israeli and Palestinian fans attend the World Cup in November. Without bowing to pressure, Qatar under Emir Al-Thani stoutly rejected the occupation state’s demand.
Afghanistan: Taliban and the US
More than 99 percent of the estimated 40 million population of Afghanis are muslims. To forestall total breakdown of law and order ahead of US withdrawal, Qatar began early enough, to facilitate diplomatic talks among the warring factions. Through Qatar, the outside world, led by the United States reached out to the Taliban, which positively rubbed on the group’s perception as hitherto, a terrorist organisation. Qatar’s position was that, regardless of how the Taliban is perceived, the population that would be affected if full blown war broke out, would be the Muslim population. By facilitating diplomatic relationship between Taliban and the erstwhile administration of Asraf Ghani as well as the United States (both under Donald Trump and Joe Biden), Qatar succeeded in minimising the level of catastrophe the people of Afghanistan could have experienced at the withdrawal of the US military forces.
Although, some observers from the western world alleged that Qatar reportedly sponsored Taliban (a US designated terror organisation), Washington nonetheless accepted Qatar’s mediatory role under the leadership of Al-Thani and in the end, a less-catastrophic, though chaotic, withdrawal of US from the war-weary Afghanistan was achieved after 20 years.
Even after the US’ departure, Taliban was prevented from running the Kabul International Airport because of the belief it could be used for terrorist activities. However, the intervention of Qatar alongside the brotherly nation of Turkiye, saved the day. Indeed, the Qatar’s technical team was able to negotiate for the reopening of the airport in September 2021, which made it easier for humanitarian aids and civilian flights to operate.
Despite its support for the Taliban, Qatari government didn’t shy away from criticising the group’s policies, especially those that may not actually be Islamic. In September 2021, Qatar’s top diplomat said the Taliban’s moves on girls’ education in Afghanistan were “very disappointing” and “a step backward”. The government of Qatar called on the group’s leadership to look to Doha for how to run an Islamic system.
Iran: Nuclear pact with world powers
Almost 97 percent of the Iranian estimated 83 million people are Muslims. A nuclear fight between Iran and the United States or any country will not only affect Qatar which is a neighbouring country but the entire region of West Asia. Under the leadership of Emir Al-Thani, Doha has been working tremendously behind the scene, mediating between Tehran and the world powers led by the United States. At the centre of the current diplomatic shuttles is the abandonment of the celebrated Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by the Trump-led administration of United States in 2018.
The signing of the JCPOA in 2015 has brought relative peace in the Middle East until the Trump administration walked away from it, leading to Iran rolling back on some of its commitments in enriching uranium. The Biden administration and Tehran had been engaging in indirect dialogue but with no headway. Most of the previous talks had held in Vienna, Austria, but for the first time, it was held in Doha, owing to the strong peace advocacy championed by Emir Al-Thani. Prior to that, Al-Thani had personally visited Tehran to help shore up diplomacy that will not derail the revival of the JCPOA with Iran.
Yemen: Between the Houthis and other warring groups
An overwhelming 99 percent of the estimated 30 million population of Yemen are Muslims. And since the 2014 conflict that split the country, majorly between the Saudi-backed government and the Iranian-backed Houthis, thousands of lives and properties have been consumed. To find a lasting peace, Oman, a neighbour of Qatar had been in the frontline of mediatory role. But that has not stopped Doha in contributing its quota. Whereas, some neighbouring gulf states were not particularly happy with Qatar’s non-commitment to fight Houthis, nonetheless, the United States accepted Qatar’s effort by allowing it to serve as a “neutral mediator” as the quest to find a lasting peace to the eight-year conflict lingers.
Chad: Bringing warring factions to the dialogue table
Muslims make up between 52-58 percent of the Chadian population of 16.4 million. After the death of the country’s longtime President, Idris Derby in 2021 and various powers cum political factions were spoiling for war, the Qatari government under the leadership of Emir Al-Thani quickly waded in, allowing different interest groups and more than 40 opposition groups to hold peaceful meetings in Doha so as to find lasting solutions.
Peaceful haven for those seeking refuge
In continuation of his dedication to support the oppressed, Qatar has provided diplomatic platforms to organisations such as the Muslim Hamas, Taliban, among others. In fact, Sheikh Tamim has offices for all of them from where they operate and initiate dialogues with the outside world. This has helped in managing what could have been catastrophic outcomes in countries where these muslim groups dwell. The Qatari government has on humanitarian ground; continued to pay bills accruing to host these ideological groups, all in a bid to engender peace.
The Emir of Qatar hosted the Egypt-born but globally renowned scholar, late Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi who died few weeks ago; the Head of Hamas’ Political Bureau Ismail Haniyah, among others. These personalities have been living in Qatar and reaching out to their followers.
In respect to the highly revered Qaradawi, who many consider as the Sheikh Al-Islam of the present generation, Egypt has on several occasions asked Qatar to hand him over and freeze all his assets, yet, the milk of kindness in Sheikh Tamim will not allow him to succumb to such pressures until the Sheikh aged and died peacefully in Qatar. Despite being sentenced to life in prison in absentia in Egypt, Qaradawi, who clocked 96 before his death, continued to provide religious guidance to many Muslims across the world from his base in Doha. He recently wrote a book on Fiqh Salat, after the world acclaimed Fiqh Zakat, considered as the best in the history of Islam.
Al Jazeera’s blessing to mankind
The Qatari government funded-Al Jazeera is a blessing to the entire world, particularly the Muslim ummah. The medium has practically taken over from CNN and other international media in the Middle East, providing alternative source of information to Muslims across the world. Through Al Jazeerah, the Muslim world is able to know about the challenges facing their brethren across the globe. A case in point was the plights of Muslim minorities such as Rohingya from Myanmar (now camped in Bangladesh) as well the Chinese Uyghur, among others.
Prior to the establishment of Al Jazeera, the Western media continuously bamboozled the Muslim world with half-truths and one-sided propaganda. The plights and maltreatment of the muslim populace were less reported. The advent of Al Jazeera, however, changed the narrative. This this has largely been possible with efforts of the Emir Al-Thani-led administration that has continuously financed the medium, such that it now reaches over 270 million households in over 140 countries across the world.
It is on record that Al Jazeera was the first international medium that ran a documentary on the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (Burma) before the survivors fled to Bangladesh. While in Bangladesh, the Qatari government continued to provide them with humanitarian and media supports for their voices to be heard.
Expectedly, many leaders of oppressive states detest Al Jazeera for exposing their evils. For instance, Al Jazeera has been constantly attacked by the Israeli government. During the May 2021 attack on Gaza, an 11-storey building housing Al Jazeera was deliberately targeted by the Israeli soldiers. And a year later, Israeli forces murdered in cold blood, Al Jazeera’s veteran reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh, while covering an Israeli army operation in Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.
In truth, Emir Al-Thani deserves commendation for not bowing to pressure from the gulf nations who proposed that Al Jazeera be shut, as part of the 13 demands to lift ban on Doha, during the 2017 crisis. Had he agreed, the enemies of Islam would have achieved their agenda, silencing a formidable mouthpiece for the oppressed and humanity in general.
Qatar’s humanitarian support for Rohingya muslims
Between April 2021 and June 2022, Qatar Charity (QC) under the leadership of Emir Al-Thani distributed food, gas cylinders and stoves to Rohingya refugees in Bhasan Char, a remote Bay of Bengal Island in Bangladesh’s Noakhali District. Rice, pulses, oil, salt, sugar and dried fish were also distributed to 2,500 Rohingya families, while cylinders and stoves were distributed to 4,562 refugee families to address the fuel shortage.
In addition, Qatar Charity provided relief aid to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh during the holy month of Ramadan. The food aid came as part of Qatar Charity’s ‘Ramadan of Hope’ drive, to alleviate the suffering of the refugees and help them meet their needs during this blessed month, especially in light of the continued Coronavirus pandemic.
As part of its “Warmth and Peace” campaign to confront the dangers of winter, Qatar Charity continued to provide the necessary winter aid to displaced people and refugees around the world. In February 2022, the charity organisation distributed emergency relief materials to Rohingya refugees affected by a massive fire that broke out in their camps in Bangladesh, as it also distributed winter clothes for the benefit of more than 1,000 affected refugees. Additionally, after delivering about 200 tonnes of essential food items as emergency relief, Qatar Charity also in June 2022 distributed gas cylinders with stoves among Rohingya families in Bhasanchar, a remote Bay of Bengal Island in the Noakhali District.
In the area of economy, Qatar is making a huge leap to become a financial powerhouse in the coming years. The Emir of Qatar is mobilizing resources to register a bolder presence for the country in the global Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) sector. Doha is blessed with hydrocarbon resources and this is being leveraged to make Qatar a major player in the LNG market across the world. Qatar is today one of the largest producers and exporters of LNG, supplying China, India, UAE, Japan, South Korea, among others.
Over the years, there have also been investments in critical sectors that boost the economy, including infrastructure, construction, transportation, tourism and media. This is especially in line with the National Vision 2030, projecting a Qatar where heavy dependence on oil and gas exports is reduced. The country has recorded steady growth in economy. Reports indicate a four percent growth in the economy in the second quarter of 2021, a clear giant leap from the 2.2 percent contraction in a similar quarter of 2020.
The Qatari government under Emir Sheikh Tamim Bn Hamad Al Thani has signed various partnerships that would bolster the economic standing of the country in key sectors such as energy, real estate, transportation, sports and so on. It has a 15-year agreement with China for the supply of more LNG from January 2022. It entered into a contract with a UK real estate developer to build healthcare facilities and private schools. It signed an agreement with the European Union (EU) on air transport; just like it will be handling ground cargo for Saudi Arabia.
Under Sheikh Tamim, the Qatari government has enacted policies that has further elevated the liberality of the country, accommodating non-indigenes to play in the economy of the country. For instance, on August 18, Qatar’s cabinet approved a draft law that grants non-Qataris the right to own 100 percent capital in at least four banks (public and private). Before this move, non-indigenes could only hold the maximum of 49 percent capital in those banks.
The country will also play host to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This no doubt bears a lot of potentials for trade, investment and the general economic growth of Qatar.
2022 FIFA World Cup
With a population of about 2 million people, Qatar under the leadership of Emir Sheikh Tamim Bn Hamad Al Thani won the rights to host the 2022 world as announced by FIFA in 2010.
The Mundial, which is slated to hold between November 21 and December 18, 2022 will see Qatar become the first Arab nation to host the biggest football competition in the world.
Many have questioned the decision by FIFA to award the rights to host such a huge tournament to an although rich and futuristic, small country like Qatar, especially as it disrupts the regular calendar of the tournament holding in the summer. Remarkably, the world cup will provide over 1.5 million jobs across several sectors like hospitality, construction, transportation, tourism, etc.
Unlike many countries that have seen their stadiums become white elephant projects after such Mundial, some of the stadiums built by Qatar for the global fiesta are made with modular elements that allow their upper parts to be unmounted and these will be donated to developing countries to help bolster their own sporting and infrastructural growth. These stadia are also built with cooling technologies, enabling them to be used all-year round and a legacy for countries who have Qatar-like climate to implement.
While some stadiums like Al-Bayt stadium, Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al-Janoub stadium and Al-Thumama stadium will be reconfigured into smaller stadiums with capacity for about 20-25 thousand seats to meet their continued local need, a stadium like Stadium 974 (formerly known as Ras Abu Aboud Stadium) which was built from 974 shipping components would be dismantled into its component materials which will then be re-used for other construction projects in developing countries – the first temporary stadium to be built.
With many fans set to hit the oil-rich gulf country, it has placed a ban on sex between unmarried people – which is against the Qatari culture – a crime that could result in up to seven years imprisonment. It has also banned public drunkenness during the fiesta.
Born in Doha, on June 3, 1980, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is the fourth son of the royal family of Qatar. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned were his parents.
As a child, Tamim attended, Great Britain’s Sherborne School in Dorset before proceeding to Harrow School where he had his A-Levels in 1997. Afterwards, he attended Royal Military School Sandhurst and graduated as a Second Liuetenant in 1998. He was then exposed to different areas of administration, finance and governance.
He became the heir apparent in 2003, when his brother, Sheikh Jassim renounced his claim to the throne. Ten years later, Tamim became the Qatari monarch on 25th June 2013 at age 33 after his father abdicated the throne. Since then, Qatar under him has recorded laudable achievements and raised the country’s international profile. With these feats and others not mentioned, we present to the world, the 2021 Global Muslim Personality of the Year.
Rasheed Abubakar, Publisher, Muslim News Nigeria
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