Qatar's emir names top diplomat as premier, reappoints energy and finance ministers

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Qatari Foreign Minister hold news conference in Doha
Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani speaks during a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured), in Doha, Qatar, November 22, 2022. REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari/File Photo

DOHA, March 7 (Reuters) - Qatar's emir on Tuesday named the country's foreign minister as the new prime minister in a move analysts said signalled a focus on building the Gulf state's global presence after having mended fences with regional rivals and hosted soccer's 2022 World Cup.

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani's office also announced a cabinet reshuffle that reappointed the finance and energy ministers of the wealthy country that is a major gas producer.

New premier Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani has been foreign minister since 2016 and represented Doha during a three-and-half-year boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies, which ended in early 2021.

He replaced Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdelaziz al-Thani, who had held the post of prime minister since 2020.

"Foreign policy and presence on the international scene is still a priority for Qatar and having an active foreign minister, who worked in a very crucial and critical time, as prime minister is a clear message," said Mahjoob Zweiri, director of the Gulf Studies Center at Qatar University.

Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup, which drew criticism over human rights, was part of a drive to elevate its global profile and influence beyond gas wealth.

Emir Sheikh Tamim had steered Qatar through the embargo imposed by four Arab states on Doha for backing Islamists they deemed a threat and for its ties with Iran.

"We see post blockade and post World Cup, a Qatar that is a lot more outward looking," said Andreas Krieg, a professor at King's College in London.

He described Sheikh Mohammed as a diplomat by profession but also a "diplomat within the cabinet among ministers" who is seen as a transformational manager trusted by the emir.

The emir kept key ministers in the new cabinet, including Finance Minister Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari and Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi. Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, who was chief of 2022 World Cup security, was named new interior minister.

The emir also restructured the board of sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, appointing central bank Governor Sheikh Bandar Bin Mohammed Bin Saoud Al-Thani as chairman to replace Sheikh Mohammed.

Reporting by Andrew Mills in Doha and Nayera Abdallah in Dubai; Writing by Andrew Mills and Clauda Tanios; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Shounak Dasgupta and Sharon Singleton

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.