Little emirate, big ambition

Analysis, posted 09.22.2014, from Qatar, in:

His gestures are dignified, his expression impassive: Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is a master at hiding his thoughts. The emir of Qatar knows exactly what is expected of an Arab monarch. For 10 years, the emir of Qatar was prepared for his role as head of state, in part by attending the British military academy Sandhurst. Just over a year ago, he succeeded his father as emir. Today, the 34-year-old is the youngest head of state in the Arab world and one of the most influential.

His powerful position is mainly due to the country's huge oil and gas deposits, which have brought unimaginable wealth to the small Gulf state. With a per capita income of nearly US$100,000 (about 77,200 euros) in 2013, Qatar is a world leader in terms of personal earnings.

In recent years, the emirate has bought stakes in many large corporations, including German companies such as Volkswagen (15.6 per cent of common shares) and construction giant Hochtief (10 per cent). It is also investing in Siemens and Deutsche Bank. According to Qatar's own figures, the little emirate invested US$18 billion (€13.9 billion) in Germany last year, making it the country's biggest Arab investor. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that economic co-operation was high on the agenda when the emir met Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin last week for bilateral talks.