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Mon 24 Oct 2016 09:06 AM

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Qatar's former emir Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani dies aged 84

Sixth emir ruled from 1972 to 1995 and is credited with modernising oil-rich Gulf state

Qatar's former emir Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani dies aged 84
Qatars former emir, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani. (Staff/AFP/Getty Images)

Qatar has announced three days of mourning to honour the death of former Emir Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani.

Sheikh Khalifa, who died on Sunday aged 84, according to state news agency QNA, was the grandfather of the current Emir and ruled for 23 years from 1972 to 1995.

The sixth emir of Qatar, Sheikh Khalifa was deposed by his son, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, while vacationing in Switzerland in 1995.

Sheikh Hamad, who was then defense minister, said at the time that seizing power was necessary because of unspecified “difficult circumstances” and internal issues facing the country, Bloomberg said.

However, Sheikh Hamad had reportedly long been seen as the real power in Qatar in the years before his father was overthrown, so the move was regarded by many as little more than a formality.

Sheikh Khalifa is credited with overseeing rapid modernisation of the Gulf state as he sought to exploit its vast reserves of natural oil and gas.

In particular, he was responsible for an increase in oil exports as a result of numerous agreements he signed with foreign companies.

He was born in Al Rayyan in 1932 and served as the country’s education minister and as commander of the security forces civilian courts before becoming deputy Emir in October 1960, according to Gulf Times.

Over the next decade he also served as Qatar’s prime minister and minister of finance.

He announced the declaration of independence from British occupation in 1971 and a year later took power, succeeding his cousin.

Sheikh Khalifa appointed a foreign minister for Qatar for the first time to increase communication and cooperation with different countries.

He restructured government bodies and departments, such as the ministries of defence, foreign affairs, municipality and information, as well as the advisory council in 1990, and created the State Audit Bureau to monitor the performance of government bodies.

He also oversaw Qatar’s role in joining the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in 1981. He is credited with transforming Qatar into the modern nation state.

He lived in France until he returned to Qatar 12 years ago.

The QNA statement did not give any details about the circumstances of his death. Funeral prayers are expected to be held on Monday, flags will fly at half mast and special events are likely to be cancelled over the three days of mourning.