“Trench love” royal family
It is the first time to be held in a Middle Eastern country, the first time to be held in the winter of the northern hemisphere, and the investment in related infrastructure is as high as 229 billion US dollars (1 US dollar is about 7.14 yuan). With the start of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar, the host country, ushered in a bright moment.
The World Cup final will be held on December 18, which is also the National Day of Qatar – in 1878, the country of Qatar was unified under the leadership of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammad Al Thani. Since then, Qatar has been ruled by the Al Thani family.
Standing at the pinnacle of power and possessing astonishing wealth, the Al Thani family led the once unknown Qatar onto the world stage step by step. In this land of sand and sea, there are many “trench” royal legends.
Tamim, the record-breaking “post-80s”
Qatar’s land area is only 11,500 square kilometers, and it is not a football powerhouse. Why did it impress FIFA?
One of the key figures in making the World Cup in Qatar a reality is the current emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (hereinafter referred to as Tamim). The Emir is Qatar’s head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, holding the highest power in the country.
Unlike most of the current leaders of Arab countries, Tamim has a young face – he was born in 1980 because his father, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (hereinafter referred to as Hamad) voluntarily abdicated. Tamim became emir at the young age of 33. He is the youngest ever emir of Qatar and the youngest state leader of an Arab country.
Tamim is his father’s fourth son, who was educated in the UK from an early age. Like his father, he also studied at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, known as one of the “four major military academies” in the world. Churchill and Montgomery are well-known alumni here. Some friends believe that it is the experience of the military academy that made Tamim confident, self-disciplined, and courageous, reflecting the demeanor of a “king-designate”. In August 2003, Tamim was established as Crown Prince.
Tamim has a deep sports complex and was once named “the best sports figure in the Arab world” by the Egyptian media. Tian Wenlin, a professor at the School of International Relations at Renmin University of China, told Global People that when Tamim was still the crown prince, he served as the chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 15th Doha Asian Games. This Asian Games is held in Arab countries for the first time, and it is also the first time in the history of the Asian Games that 45 countries and regions participated in the competition. Tamim’s coordination ability is evident.
In December 2010, Qatar defeated strong opponents such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States to win the right to host the World Cup.
When it comes to Qatar, a Gulf country rich in oil and gas resources, people’s first impression may be “rich and willful”. Qatar spent a lot of money on its bid to host the World Cup. It not only invested tens of millions of dollars in public relations expenses, sent delegations to lobby around the world, but also hired Milou, Beckham, Zidane and other celebrities to wave the flag.
Six months before the bid results were announced, it coincided with the opening of the World Cup in South Africa. Qatar has booked an entire floor of the famous Da Vinci Hotel in the local area to publicize and demonstrate its ability to host major sports events.
In order to better carry out the construction and development of the World Cup project, Qatar established the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Heritage, with Tamim as the chairman. So far, Qatar has invested approximately US$229 billion in new infrastructure such as stadiums, airports, hotels, shopping malls, subways, and roads, and has even spent a lot of money upgrading the desert village of Lusail into a modern city. This figure far exceeds the US$11.6 billion of the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the US$15 billion of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
According to Ding Long, a professor at the Middle East Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, Tamim’s enthusiasm for hosting large-scale international sports events has something to do with Qatar’s special geopolitical status. It is a “pocket country” with a very small land area. It is adjacent to Saudi Arabia (hereinafter referred to as Saudi Arabia) and Iran respectively. It not only shares the same origin with Saudi Arabia, but also shares large natural gas fields with Iran. This determines that Qatar cannot “choose sides and join teams”, and needs to seek living space among the intricately related Gulf powers.
”Qatar takes diplomacy as an important way to enhance its soft power, and hopes to transcend its image as a ‘small country’ and get rid of its attachment to regional or international forces. Hosting the World Cup is undoubtedly an effective way to enhance its soft power and international image,” Ding Long said.
At the end of Hamad’s tenure as emir, the “Arab Spring” brought turmoil to the Middle East. Due to different positions held by Qatar, the relationship between Qatar and other Gulf countries and the West was once tense. As a young emir, Tamim basically continued Hamad’s major policies at the beginning of his tenure, but he adjusted his foreign policy to ease Qatar’s external pressure.
Tian Wenlin analyzed to the reporter of “Global People” that compared with Hamad, Tamim is more concerned about domestic investment, local security and national well-being. After he took office, he replaced the prime minister. The new prime minister had served in the special forces, the internal security force, and served as the interior minister. Most of the other cabinet members appointed by Tamim are mainly engaged in domestic and local affairs on their resumes.
Leading one of the world’s wealthiest countries, Tamim is also generous when it comes to rewarding its citizens. In 2014, when the Qatari team won the 22nd Gulf Cup final, Tamim rewarded each team member with a Land Rover off-road vehicle and 2 million Qatari riyals (1 Qatari riyal is about 1.96 yuan) ), and even every Qatari fan who went to the scene in person was awarded 5,200 Qatari riyals.
On July 15, 2018, under the witness of FIFA President Infantino (middle), Tamim took over the football symbolizing the right to host the 2022 World Cup from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The first major test of Tamim’s tenure came in 2017. At that time, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced the severance of diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed sanctions and blockade on the grounds that Qatar “undermined regional security”. Subsequently, some countries announced the severance of diplomatic relations with Qatar.
Facing the crisis, Tamim responded with aplomb, reducing negative impacts by finding alternative trade routes and partners. He used Qatar’s rich natural gas to cultivate a complex friendship network. The then French President, the King of Morocco, the German Foreign Minister and others all came forward to call for the lifting of the blockade against Qatar. On the military front, he has also cooperated with the United States, Russia and Turkey to secure more security guarantees for Qatar, which has a weak military.
Wu Yan, an associate professor at the Institute of World History at Zhejiang University, analyzed that under the leadership of Tamim, Qatar’s diplomatic strategies have become more diversified. It is worth noting that in the face of the diplomatic dilemma at that time, Tamim’s diplomatic attitude was not tough, and he even made some compromises. However, he rejected everything that harmed the core interests of Qatar, including severing diplomatic relations with Iran. Relations, the closure of the Turkish military base in Qatar, the closure of Al Jazeera, etc.
At the beginning of last year, Saudi Arabia and other countries announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Qatar, and the crisis that lasted for nearly four years finally eased. Tamim proved what he can do. In Qatar, posters with Tamim’s portrait and the words “Glory Tamim” can be seen everywhere. “The emir is popular, but at first you could see people saying ‘he’s young’ or ‘he’s inexperienced’. The blockade was a trial by fire and he finally earned the respect of his subjects.” Said the French businessman in business.
With the World Cup going on, Qatar’s international image is expected to be further enhanced. “Tamim tried to place Qatar in a place with as few enemies as possible and as many friends as possible,” said Cynzia Bianco, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “He did a lot to show that Qatar was a step forward. country, a modern country.”
Hamad, “international meeting lover”
”Now is the time to open a new chapter in our country’s journey, and a new generation will shoulder the responsibility.” On June 25, 2013, Emir Hamad, who has been in power for 18 years, made a televised speech announcing the transfer of power to his son Tamim. In the Arab countries of the Gulf region, where the monarchs who hold the real power usually rule for life, such cases of power transfer are very rare.
Like the unexpected abdication, Hamad’s reign began with dramatic drama: In 1995, while his father, Khalifa, was vacationing in Switzerland, he staged a bloodless coup.
”I don’t like what’s happening, but it really should happen, I have to do it.” On the same day, Hamad made a short 90-second speech, explaining the cause of the coup. Because of his long-term preparations and the real power of the armed forces, he encountered little resistance. A few days later, members of the Al-Thani family and leaders of other major tribes pledged their allegiance to the new emir.
In 2010, Hamad, then emir, posted the Arsenal team uniform on social media.
On December 2, 2010, Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup. Hamad and his wife Moza excitedly lifted the Hercules Cup.
The main contradiction between the father and son lies in their different ideas about the development of the country. Hamad was born in the 1950s. Unlike his predecessors, he had the experience of receiving education in the West and his vision was relatively broad. He advocates change and is eager to accept new things. “The new world order presents Qatar with a choice between moving forward with the changes or being overwhelmed by new challenges. If we stubbornly resist these changes, the pressure will mount and eventually lead to serious social unrest .” In 1997, he mentioned in a speech.
At that time, in addition to facing macro problems such as economic downturn and increasing national fiscal deficit, Qatar was also troubled by social problems such as rapid population growth in large cities and traffic congestion.
Hamad is determined to carry out drastic modernization reforms in Qatar. After he took office to form a cabinet, the principals in charge of many government agencies have become professional and younger, and many young people in their 30s have led the charge.
In order to improve the backwardness of Qatar’s industrial level and the over-reliance of the economic system on oil resources, Hamad vigorously promoted the development of the natural gas industry. With an advanced strategic vision, he invested about 20 billion U.S. dollars to build Ras Laffan Port about 80 kilometers away from Doha. Today, the port is the world’s largest LNG export port, and Qatar has maintained its status as the world’s largest LNG producer and exporter for many years. Natural gas, like oil, has become the backbone of Qatar’s economy.
In order to better manage the huge income from oil and gas sales, ensure the stable development of the macro economy, and realize the intergenerational transfer of national wealth, Qatar established the Qatar Investment Authority in 2005 to operate and manage Qatar’s national sovereign wealth fund. The Qatar Investment Authority is behind commercial assets such as Hollywood studios, Volkswagen, and the London Stock Exchange.
Hamad also focused on improving the status of women. In March 1999, Qatar held its first central municipal council election, announcing that it would grant women the right to vote and run for public office, which was the first of its kind in the Gulf countries. In 2003, Qatar appointed its first female education minister. In 2005, Qatar’s first permanent constitution came into effect, making it clear that women and men have equal political rights.
Al Jazeera, which became famous for its coverage of bin Laden, was also established during Hamad’s tenure. Al Jazeera follows up many international issues through live broadcasts and online connections, and is regarded by the Qatari people as a symbol of its modern culture. In the Arab world, Al Jazeera also has a very wide influence and has become an important channel for Qatar’s foreign cultural exports.
During the 18 years of Hamad’s rule, Qatar’s total GDP rose from 8.138 billion US dollars to 198.728 billion US dollars, a full increase of more than 20 times. Among the Gulf countries of similar size and rich energy resources, Qatar’s growth rate is among the best. Some researchers believe that Hamad’s reforms have significantly improved the degree of modernization in Qatar and brought a new atmosphere of political participation and open development to the people.
However, the most eye-catching aspect of Hamad’s tenure is his diplomatic strategy.
”When he (Hamad) landed at a foreign airport, the customs officer asked him: Qatar? Where is that? It shocked him.” Former French ambassador to Doha, Bertrand Besanchero, recalled: “He wanted to Make your country famous.”
There is a deep meaning behind the word “famous”. The Al Thani family originally belonged to the Tamim family living in today’s Saudi Arabia, and moved to Doha in 1849 to settle down. This has allowed Qatar and Saudi Arabia to maintain a special relationship for a long time. The two countries have a tradition of marriage. Among the wives of Khalifa, the father of Hamad, are members of the Saudi royal family. Khalifa believes that “Qatar has father Saudi Arabia and mother Egypt”. But Hamad firmly believes that in order to protect Qatar’s development and security, it is necessary to expand its own influence.
Under Hamad’s leadership, Qatar has established diplomatic relations with more than 110 countries and is actively involved in regional and international affairs. Sending diplomats to support peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and factions in the Darfur region, mediating conflicts in Eritrea and Ethiopia, acting as a mediator between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan… Qatar has gradually assumed the role of “regional peace mediator”.
During those years, Hamad was a frequent presence at major international conferences hosted or coordinated by Qatar — meetings that often ended with the “Doha Declaration,” which brought the Qatari capital’s name into the history books time and again. For this reason, Hamad was evaluated by the Western media as an “international meeting lover” and “a rock star in the diplomatic circle”.
”The primary goal of Qatar’s foreign policy is to maintain the stability of the region and surrounding environment, so as to create a favorable environment for its own development. In diplomatic practice, Qatar does not draw lines based on ethnicity, religion, or ideology, and does not blindly seek refuge with major powers or follow allies. Starting from its own interests, it develops friendly relations with all countries in the world, including Iran, Syria and other hostile countries to the United States. Through the implementation of diplomatic mediation activities, Qatar has demonstrated a unique diplomatic style and established its own national image in the international arena.” Ding Long Say.
Moza, the star-like “Queen Dowager”
In June 2013, when addressing his own coronation, Tamim paid tribute to his father Hamad in a long and passionate speech, without mentioning the name of his mother Moza. However, according to rumors, it was Moza who was the driving force behind this abdication.
”In the eyes of the local people, Moza is behind many important events in Qatar.” Liu Xinlu, dean of the Arabic College of Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the “Global People” reporter: “When Hamad was in power, he and Moza, and Another Hamad, who served successively as Qatar’s foreign minister and then prime minister, formed a power pyramid. The emir was at the top, and the other two participated in decision-making.”
From his first appearance in the public eye, Mozah could not be ignored exist. She is tall, never wears a veil, has a chiseled face and heavy make-up. Although she wears a headscarf, it is more like a fashion match with a gorgeous dress – her clothes are mostly from international brands, even if they are based on Islamic customs. After making improvements, it still appears to be unique in the Gulf countries, which is in stark contrast to the generally low sense of presence of royal women in other Gulf countries. And all this has been supported by her husband Hamad.
Considering Mo Zha’s background, such support is even rarer. Moza’s father was a bitter rival to the elder Emir Khalifa. Moza was born in 1959, and her wealthy businessman father was thrown into prison for speaking out against Khalifa. After he was released from prison, the family fled to Kuwait and Egypt when Moza was 5 years old. Unexpectedly, 13 years later, Moza returned with a high profile, transformed from a “sinner’s daughter” into Crown Prince Hamad’s favorite bride.
Hamad had another marriage before and after his marriage to the Qatar University sociology student. However, Mozah was the only one of Hamad’s three wives to make public appearances, accompanying him to the White House, Buckingham Palace, Elysee Palace and the Gaza Strip. She was described as a “stylish ‘movie star'” in US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
According to reports, Moza and Hamad have 5 sons and 2 daughters, and Tamim is her second son. After marriage, Moza completed his studies, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1986, a master’s degree later, and honorary doctorates from several universities.
When Mozha appeared in public, his appearance was eye-catching.
The same concept makes the relationship between Hamad and Moza solid. After Hamad changed from crown prince to emir, Moza had more opportunities to display his talents and became one of Qatar’s important operators.
In 2010, the Qatar Investment Authority acquired the famous British department store Harrods. According to reports, the transaction was worth about 1.5 billion pounds (1 pound was about 10.5 yuan at the time), and Moza played an important role in promoting the acquisition. What can better reflect Moza’s personal business will are probably private investment companies and Qatar luxury goods groups that have connections with the Qatari royal family. The former in 2012 is believed to have acquired the Italian luxury brand Valentino for 700 million euros (1 euro was about 8.1 yuan at the time), which is Mozza’s favorite brand; the latter specializes in acquisitions in the luxury sector.
Moza has also had a non-negligible impact on the social life of Qatar, especially in the fields of education and medical care. She and Hamad founded the Qatar Education, Science and Social Development Fund in 1995. She serves as the chairman of the foundation and is deeply involved in the operation of the foundation.
An important result of this fund is the establishment of an education city in Qatar, which houses many educational and scientific research institutions, including branch campuses of world-renowned universities. Moza once recalled such a scene. One day in the late 1990s, her plane was parked on the runway and was about to fly to the United States to discuss cooperation with a top American university. Some in her entourage, however, doubted the success of the trip. “If you have that mentality, leave now.” Moza said to her assistant: “If you don’t believe it, then you have to leave now.” Finally, the plane took off, and so did the Education City, although Experienced failed negotiations at the initial stage. Now, there are 8 universities in Education City, 7 of which are branch campuses of foreign institutions, including Cornell University School of Medicine, Georgetown University, and Northwestern University. Qatar is committed to guaranteeing academic freedom and paying all costs of running schools.
Liu Xinlu once visited Qatar Education City: “Regardless of the architectural style, discipline setting, and talent training system, it is completely Western-style. This reflects the determination of the Qatari royal family to achieve internationalization locally. In their view, on the one hand, the establishment of education The cost of studying in the city is comparable to sending students to Western countries, and there is no more expenditure. On the other hand, it can also create a regional education center that can attract students from the Islamic cultural circle in the Middle East and even South Asia. There are very few local scholars in Qatar. Most of the teachers are from the West or other Arab countries. The reason why we can attract these teachers is that Qatar provides high wages, insurance, living allowances for family members and other benefits.” Moza’s establishment of the Education City is inseparable from Qatar’s huge
wealth support. Qatar was originally a land of traditions, with more than 10,000 square kilometers of sand and salt flats, scattered with nomadic Bedouins, who wore flowing robes, lived by fishing pearls for a long time, and competed with falcons and camels For fun. Successive discoveries of oil and natural gas have brought about a shift, and the North-South Pars gas field, shared with Iran, is the largest known gas field in the world. Oil and gas exports have allowed Qatar to accumulate a lot of wealth, ranking among the richest countries in the world. At the same time, Qatar has a small population. Among the 2.9 million people living there, the country’s population accounts for less than 15%. In 2021, Qatar’s per capita GDP will exceed 60,000 US dollars, and at the same time enjoy extremely high benefits.
On November 20, 2022, Moza met with UN Secretary-General Guterres.
”The locals have a saying, ‘jumped from a camel to a Mercedes overnight’. Many Qataris, you ask his father what he does, he sells oil; then ask his grandfather what he does, he shepherds sheep. Liao Baizhi, deputy director of the Middle East Research Institute of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the reporter of Global People: “Qatar is a Gulf country that started to diversify its economy earlier. For example, they started to deploy the aviation industry very early. Doha’s airport is One of the busiest airports in the Middle East and a shipping hub for the region.”
”Qatar is also committed to building itself into a convention and exhibition center, holding various education exhibitions, medical exhibitions, international competitions, etc. all year round.” Liu Xinlu said: “This kind of exhibition economic layout is also in line with Qatar’s diplomatic goal of becoming a regional mediation center. Qatar Several top hotels are full of guests every day. Representatives from governments around the world and representatives of various institutions gather here to mediate issues, including the Sudanese issue, the Afghan issue, and the Iranian issue. Qatar has also expanded its economic vitality through this method. It has also enhanced the diplomatic energy.”
And Moza still plays an indispensable role in Qatar’s foreign exchanges. On the opening day of the World Cup, as the chairman of the Education First Foundation and an advocate of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, she met with the Secretary-General of the United Nations Guterres to discuss education issues. “Although Hamad has abdicated, Moza has already formed a kind of institutional influence.” Liu Xinlu commented.
Mayassa, “Art Princess”
This influence is also being passed down from generation to generation. Needless to say, Tamim, several other children of Moza also have their own division of labor in Qatar’s culture, sports, education, investment and other affairs. Among them, Mayassa inherited her mother’s style of spending a lot of money and made a name for herself in the international art market. She is considered “the most important buyer in today’s art market”. The royal family of Qatar also has a “modern version of Medici”. family” title. It is said that Mayasa’s annual budget for purchasing art is 1 billion US dollars.
Mayassa’s collection focuses on Western modern and contemporary art, as well as Arabic-style works. In 2012, she paid $250 million for The Card Players by French painter Paul Cézanne, the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction. According to reports, Mayasa’s other famous trophies include American artist Andy Warhol’s “The Man in Her Life”, Spanish artist Picasso’s “Child with a Dove”, British painter Francis Bacon’s “Lucien Flo Ede portrait study”, French painter Paul Gauguin’s “When will you get married?” “Wait. She even went to court with Gagosian, the world’s top gallery, for a $100 million statue of Picasso.
Although her acting style is fierce, from the outside, Mayasa is much more low-key than her mother. She doesn’t wear much makeup and often appears in public in a black robe and sneakers. Of course, sometimes, she also dresses up as a fashionable business woman. Mayassa likes to introduce herself as a civil servant—she is officially head of Qatar’s museum governing body. She has held this position since 2006, spending a lot of money on the art market to add to the collections of museums in her country. Asked whether Doha would be as important in global art and culture as London, New York and Paris in a few decades, Mayassa replied: “It’s possible. Why not?”
The exterior of the Qatar Museum of Islamic Art.
Mayassa outside the National Museum of Qatar.
The love of art has long existed. “I have always liked painting, and my father would encourage me.” Mayassa said: “He took me to art fairs, auctions, opera houses and concerts in Paris and London.” She is the third child and the eldest daughter. She has mastered Arabic, English and French since she was a child. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in politics and literature from Duke University in the United States, and studied for graduate studies at Columbia University.
When she returned to Qatar in her 20s, she was commissioned by her father to establish a museum of Islamic art. As soon as Mayasa made a move, she invited the Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei to design a magnificent building with a sense of geometry and Islamic style. Opened in 2008, the museum houses manuscripts, books and scientific instruments spanning more than 10 centuries of Islamic civilization.
Since then, a series of museums have been built, demonstrating the cultural ambitions of Mayassa and Qatar. Following the Museum of Islamic Art, the Arab Museum of Modern Art was completed in 2010, with a collection of more than 9,000 works of art, setting the largest collection of similar museums; in 2019, the National Museum of Qatar was completed. Rose”, the exhibition revolves around the natural history, social and cultural history, and national history of the Qatar Peninsula; this year, the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum opened. The boxing gloves worn when winning the Rome Olympic Games in 1999, and the racing car driven by F1 legendary driver Michael Schumacher.
Mayasa introduced many art activities to Qatar. She founded the non-profit cultural organization Doha Film Academy to support the development of Arabic cinema, especially Qatari cinema. She has also held many exhibitions. In 2012, she held her first solo exhibition in the Middle East for Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, as well as for American minimalist sculptor Richard Serra and even the controversial British contemporary artist Damien Hess. A special exhibition was held.
In fact, Qatar’s own historical and cultural relics are not particularly rich. Liao Baizhi told the reporter: “Their traditional activities are relatively simple. Most of them gather together to talk at night and dance. In addition, there is no idol worship in Islamic civilization, so exquisite statues and portraits are relatively rare. Now, Qatar attaches great importance to history. The excavation of culture, such as the construction of the Grand Bazaar, is to combine traditional architecture with modern lighting and drainage, and walking in it is like wandering in the history of the past hundreds of years.” Liu Xinlu also feels the same about this
. “Doha is small in size, and there are a lot of modern buildings in the coastal area. Men and women in the business district wear very modern clothes, going in and out of cafes and bars; in the old city, many old buildings are preserved, and you can also see them wrapped in burqas. The elderly in the country. Qatar is not trying to completely abandon and break its own traditions, but is looking for a delicate balance. In line with this, Qatar is also trying to build itself into a cultural exchange center. The history and culture it excavates are not only It is limited to its own country; the collections it exhibits in the museum are also collected from many countries. Qatar regards itself as a part of the Islamic world and wants to become a bridge between Islamic culture and world culture. It introduces Eastern and Western art, not only It is to influence Qataris, but also to create a charismatic, attractive and even leadership image in the Islamic world.”