DOHA, Jan 27 – Qatar’s emir issued a decree on Wednesday replacing the foreign minister and merging some portfolios, state news agency QNA reported, in what was seen as a move to consolidate his power and cut costs after the sharp drop in oil prices.
Qatar, the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas exporter, is one of the Gulf’s richest countries, although the value of its energy exports almost halved last year.
The new foreign minister was named as Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. Khalid al-Attiyah, the outgoing foreign minister, will become state minister for defence affairs.
The emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who took over in 2013 after his father stepped down, also holds the post of defence minister.
A Western diplomat in Doha said cost-cutting was one reason for the cabinet reshuffle, following the sharp decline in oil prices.
“But this is also about Sheikh Tamim’s slow consolidation of power after 2-1/2 years in the job,” the diplomat said.
“He’s still pushing out the old timers loyal to the former emir who were not necessarily that effective but couldn’t be sacked all in one go,” the diplomat added.
The decree also merged several ministries, including communication and transport and culture, youth and sports. The public health minister was also replaced.
The ministers of energy and finance were unchanged.