Doha: Former Emir of Qatar Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani died on Sunday evening at the age of 84, the Emiri Diwan announced in a statement.
The Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who is also grandson of Sheikh Khalifa, declared three days of public mourning across the country, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
“May Allah have mercy on his soul and make his residence Paradise, and grant him the best reward for what he achieved for his homeland and nation,” the Emiri Diwan statement added.
Sheikh Khalifa was the sixth Emir of Qatar and ruled from 1972 until 1995. He was born in Al Rayyan in 1932. Before assuming power, he worked as commander of the security forces and in-charge of civilian courts in the country, Gulf Times daily reported.
Khalifa became the deputy ruler of the country on October 24, 1960 and finance minister on November 5 that year.
The first Cabinet was formed in Qatar under the temporary political system on May 29, 1970, and he assumed the position of the prime minister in addition to being the finance minister, deputy ruler of the country and minister for oil.
He announced the declaration of independence from British occupation on September 3, 1971. Sheikh Khalifa became the Emir on February 22, 1972. He appointed a foreign minister for Qatar for the first time to express Qatar’s foreign policy and enhance communication and understanding with different countries.
Sheikh Khalifa is credited in Qatar’s history with launching the foundations of a modern state and restructuring government bodies and departments, such as the ministries of defense, foreign affairs, municipality and information.
He also exerted great efforts in developing services in the country and entered into agreements with major oil companies to benefit from the country’s resources.
During his reign, the Advisory Council was restructured on December 14, 1990, when 19 new members were appointed and 11 former members kept their positions. Also during his reign, Qatar took part in the establishment of the Gulf Co-operation Council in 1981.
In his time, the country witnessed prosperity in different aspects including economy. His reign saw considerable increase in oil exports due to the agreements signed by the government with a number of foreign companies.
The Qatar General Petroleum Corporation was established in 1974 and in 1984 Qatargas company was set up. The same year, a committee was set up to run the Al Shamal gas field.
In 1991, the natural gas project was completed and the first gas well started production. In September the same year Sheikh Khalifa officially opened the Al Shamal gas field.
In the field of industry, a number of factories such as Qatar steel and Qatar Petrochemicals were inaugurated.
The Qatar monetary agency was established in 1973 while the Qatar University was established and became a full-fledged university in 1977. In the field of health, the Hamad General Hospital was set up and Sheikh Khalifa inaugurated it in 1982.
In 1975, the Qatar News Agency was established and a number of magazines and newspapers started publishing.
In June 27, 1995 power shifted from Sheikh Khalifa to the then Heir Apparent Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the father of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.