A trailblazer for democracy?

Ford, Neil
January 2004
Middle East;Jan2004, Issue 341, p20
A revolution is underway in Qatar where a new leader and the dawn of the 21st century, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani marked the beginning of pioneering change towards modernity. The issue of political reform in the Middle East has once again been pushed into headlines by an appeal for change from U.S. President George W. Bush. But contrary to popular belief, Gulf's first democracy may not be born in U.S. dominated Iraq but in the small but prosperous emirate of Qatar. Qatar has already made impressive headway, not least with the enfranchisement of women, who have been permitted to vote and stand for office since the 1999 local elections. Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani is widely credited with pushing through reforms for improved political representation. He has repeatedly affirmed his belief that democracy is the way forward for his country. Thani seems very keen for the new governing framework to succeed and is widely regarded as one of the most ardent supporters of political reform in the Middle East.


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