30 members of the country’s legislative body were elected by the people earlier this month.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani congratulated the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in a heartfelt Twitter thread on Tuesday, following the opening session for the country’s first-ever elected Shura Council.
“I would like to congratulate HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani for the inauguration of the first meeting of the elected Shura Council. I wish all the members the best of luck in their upcoming responsibilities, and look forward to working with them towards the betterment of Qatar,” he said in a Tweet.
The amir delivered a powerful speech at the inaugural session as he marked a new chapter in Doha’s domestic affairs. The Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani was also in attendance.
During his speech, the amir tapped into the country’s success over the years, its foreign policy, the World Cup, and tribalism.
Sheikh Mohammed recalled the amir’s statements on the Gulf state’s foreign policy “and its role in shaping the country’s international stature” and its global contributions to achieve stability and prosperity.
I would like to recall, on this occasion, HH’s statements regarding Qatar’s foreign policy and its role in shaping the country’s international stature, including its contributions to the global pursuit of stability and prosperity, despite the existence of barriers and challenges.
— محمد بن عبدالرحمن (@MBA_AlThani_) October 26, 2021
“Qatar’s foreign policy is distinguished by its cooperative efforts and its pursuit of constructive dialogue over conflict and war, principles which illustrate Qatar as a fair mediator, a reliable partner, and a prominent figure in the pursuit of peace and fight against terrorism,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
The amir also noted the importance of Doha’s bond with the GCC and the historic Al-Ula Declaration, which ended a three-year-long crisis that split the region.
Commenting on the amir’s statements, Sheikh Mohammed stressed that Qatar is willing to “overcome internal conflicts through dialogue” and it strives to commit to the accord signed between Doha and its Gulf neighbours, as well as Egypt, during the Al-Ula Summit on 5 January this year.
“It is important to note that our humanitarian principles and Islamic and Arab identity constitute the core of our foreign policy and serve as our motivation to continue to strive towards peace and development,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
On Tuesday, Sheikh Tamim also instructed the Council of Ministers to work on preparing legal amendments to promote equality among Qataris. Those amendments will be later presented to the Shura Council for approvals and modifications.
While the announcement of the country’s first Shura Council elections was met with global and local praise, the electoral law itself was criticised for its exclusion of some members of Qatari society. This sparked fierce debates online as well as small-scale protests that later calmly faded.
The current electoral law stipulates that Qatari nationals wishing to vote must be 18 by the time the final electoral lists are announced. However, those who have been nationalised are only eligible if their paternal grandfather was born in Qatar by a specific date.
Candidates must also be “native” Qatari and aged 30 and above by the closing date of the nomination. As per a referendum voted in by Qataris in 2003, such laws can only be changed by the Shura Council, which was unable to do so until it’s elected into office.
The amir said the process requires “an intensive social and educational work” to counter “tribal bigotry vis-à-vis public interest or loyalty” to Qatar and its national unity.
“This negative aspect of tribalism took us all by surprise recently when some of its negative manifestations reminded us of its existence. Although our enlightened society swiftly overcame it, we cannot ignore the disease for mere disappearance of its symptoms,” said Sheikh Tamim.
The historic inaugural session also saw the election of Hassan bin Abdullah Al-Ghanim as its speaker and Hamda bint Hassan Al Sulaiti as his deputy on Tuesday, completing the country’s legislative body.
Earlier this month, Sheikh Tamim appointed Ahmed Nasser Ibrahim Al-Fadala as the Shura Council’s secretary-general, replacing his predecessor Fahad bin Mubarak Al Khayareen.
The Qatari leader also appointed the remaining 15 members of the legislative body.
“To conclude, we are commencing a new chapter in the development of our nation, pioneered by our country’s wise citizens and leadership, while bearing the weight of serving our nation, and the honour of achieving its vision through sincerity and perseverance,” said Qatar’s foreign minister.