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Sheikh Khalifa, former Emir of Qatar, dies aged 84

The former Emir of Qatar and grandfather of the current Emir of Qatar died last Sunday at the age of 84, according to an official statement from the palace.

“His highness father Emir Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani passed away on the evening of Sunday October 23, 2016, at the age of 84 years,” read the official statement. Public mourning has been ordered across the country for three days. No further details were given about the circumstances of his death, though some reports state he was in hospital for a week.

Sheikh Khalifa was born in 1932 as the son of Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani and Aisha Bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi. He began his career in 1957 as Minister of Education. He was later appointed Deputy Emir and rose to be named heir apparent on  24 October 1960. During the 1960s he also served as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

On 22 February 1972 Sheikh Khalifa seized power from his cousin, Emir Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani. He reorganised the government and set about limiting the financial privileges of members of the ruling family. In April of that same year he amended the constitution and expanded the cabinet by appointing more ministers. After being removed from power Sheikh Khalifa spent much of his time living in France and he only returned to Qatar in 2004.

Sheikh Khalifa had five sons and ten daughters from his four wives. His eldest son from his second wife seized power from his father in 1995 in a bloodless coup while he was on holiday in Switzerland. Two other sons rose to be Petroleum and finance minister and Prime Minister. His son Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa ruled as Emir of Qatar from 1995 until 2013. The current Emir of Qatar is his grandson Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who became heir apparent in 2003, replacing his elder brother who had renounced his succession rights.

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