Several unidentified individuals belonging to Qatar’s royal family landed in Zurich, Switzerland in as many as nine planes over the Christmas weekend for medical reasons.
The landing at Zurich was unscheduled, but the multiple aircrafts were given permission from the Swiss Air Force to land shortly after midnight on Boxing Day. Night landings are usually forbidden at Zurich-Kloten Airport to avoid disturbance to local residents.
Although it was initially unclear who was on board and what the precise nature of the medical reason was, it later became clear that Qatar’s former Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Klalifa Al Thana, was flown to Switzerland for a surgery after a breaking his leg whilst on holiday.
The 63-year-old former Emir underwent a successful operation and is already recovering and is undergoing physiotherapy. There is no official word on how or where the former Emir broke his leg, but the family had reportedly been on holiday in Morocco’s Atlas mountains.
The former Emir is believed to have been in poor health for years. He ruled Qatar from 1995 until handing over power to his son on 25 June 2013. The transfer of power was described as surprisingly smooth, considering previous transfers of power.
It was made official in a brief televised statement, where he addressed the importance of shifting leadership to more youthful hands. Though no official reason for the abdication was given, it is believed that his poor health was an important factor. He was expected to remain a guiding force in Qatar.
The current Emir is his fourth son, out of a total of 24 children by three different wives. He was named Crown Prince in 2003 when his older brother renounced his rights. He too has three wives, one of which is his first cousin, and he is father of eight children.
Photocredit: Emir of Qatar by President of the European Council via Flickr.com