The State of Qatar will hold Advisory Council elections in the second half of 2013, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani announced last week. His announcement also included the ending of state monopolies and establishment of a free market economy.
According to Shadi Hamid of the Atlantic, neither protests nor even United Arab Emirates style petitions were held to oppose the decision. “If you like, call it ‘Qatari exceptionalism’, the Brooking Institution scholar wrote in his feature. He explained that the small amount of population with the highest GDP per capita in the world have a popular monarch who has succeeded in changing fortunes of the gas-rich sheikhdom.
The Emir announced that the objective of the elections is to successfully implement the clauses of the constitution. Under Qatar’s 2003 constitution, 30 of the council’s 45 members will be elected and the remaining 15 appointed. He said, “We all know that these steps are necessary to build the modern state of Qatar that is capable of dealing with the challenges of time and building the country”.
Achievement of high economic growth is only because of the well invested resources resulting in diversified sources of income. A small country like Qatar has been able to conquer the position in the international market by continuously investing in education and health.
The Emir discussed about the critical times when the debt of the country reached 111 percent of the GDP. The firm belief in them and the decision to invest in gas development made them achieve the position they are in today.
According to the Emir, Raise in the salaries of Qatari employees was logical as the country has been witnessing growth. Qatar is building its international profile, by providing a platform to its citizens and plans to expand it further. Al-Jazeera, pan Arab broadcaster that Qatari government owns, is known as “a voice for the voiceless” and has always been on the frontline with an intense coverage of uprisings from Tunisia to Syria.
Qatar wanted to be known as a pro-democracy force by supporting the democratic campaign in Libya. The Emir said: “The world is turning its eyes towards Qatar, so Qatar has to be concerned about how others are seeing it.”
Sources: BBC News, Gulf News, Al Jazeera, The Peninsula, The Atlantic, Guardian