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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Qatar Emir: Reforms must continue, but ‘no room for panic’

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Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani addresses Cabinet
Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani addresses Cabinet

Qatar must “double efforts” on plans to diversify its economy, the nation’s Emir has told his new Cabinet following a reshuffling of several ministries.

In a significant reorganization of the government announced yesterday, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani cut the number of ministries to 14 plus Defense, removed some long-standing ministers from their portfolios and promoted new ones.

Addressing the new leadership, Sheikh Tamim said that tumbling global energy prices means the state has move away from a reliance on the oil and gas sector, but there is “no room for fear or panic.”

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Reiterating the message he gave to the Advisory (Shura) Council late last year, the Emir said, as reported by QNA:

“Price volatility is normal and that there is no room for fear or panic …what is needed is to take advantage of past lessons and deal with the current situation so that it reflects positively.”

Emphasizing the need for ministers to gain the trust of Qatar’s citizens in the challenging economic climate, the Emir went on: “Your responsibility in light of the falling oil prices is bigger, but serving the citizens and their lifestyle should not be affected by this situation.”

He also warned that ministries need to be run more efficiently and with greater oversight:

“Mistakes are natural and our officials are known for their integrity and transparency, but I stress that financial and administrative corruption, which is more dangerous as it causes sagging in institutions, cannot be tolerated,” the Emir said.

Improvement needed

While acknowledging progress in some fields, the Emir singled out infrastructure, education and health as sectors that need improvement, and he called on the ministers in charge to “overcome” these issues.

He also said education and health would be two of the main priorities for the state in the coming years.

This is in addition to strengthening the economy and security, with a particular focus on promoting military capability and developing Qatar’s Armed Forces.

Defense Advisor Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Ali Al Attiyah
Defense Advisor Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Ali Al Attiyah

This focus on defense and the military is echoed by the Emir’s decision to move former foreign minister Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah to the role of state minister for defense affairs.

The former state minister, Major General Hamad Bin Ali Al-Attiyah, is now in a new position of Advisor to the Emir for Defense Affairs, which has the rank of Prime Minister.

The move comes as Qatar is engaged in what is believed to be its largest military action in several years after sending some 1,000 troops into Yemen as part of a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels.

Health/education restructure

This week, the Emir also ordered a reorganization of two of the country’s key authorities, which cover education and health.

The Supreme Council of Health (SCH) has been disbanded and its mandate will now fall under the Ministry of Public Health, according to Emiri decision No. 10 of 2016.

The state-run Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) now also comes under the new health ministry, which now has 18 departments, according to the Qatar Tribune.

Former managing director of HMC Dr. Hanan Al Kuwari is the new Minister of Public Health.

Dr Hanan Al Kuwari being sworn in as new Minister for Public Health
Dr Hanan Al Kuwari being sworn in as new Minister for Public Health

Al Kuwari has been with HMC for nearly 20 years and has been leading the state-funded organization through significant change as it strives to keep pace with the country’s rapidly growing population.

Meanwhile, the previous title of the Supreme Education Council (SEC) has been abolished, with its mandate now falling under the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

According to Emiri decision No. 9 of 2016, Mohammed Abdul Wahed Ali Al Hammadi remains in post as Education Minister.

There is a new, internal administrative structure with offices being replaced by departments, the education ministry announced last night on Twitter.

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