Emir announces major shake-up of ministries and councils (DohaNews, 21/02/2014)

The Emir has just announced a significant revamp of Qatar’s ministries and councils, the first major reorganization of the country’s governing bodies since he assumed power last June.

The new line-up, which is effective immediately, includes bringing the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) under the control of the Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning, and the addition of two new separate departments for climate change and combating pollution at the Ministry of Environment.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has also made significant changes to the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) and the much-criticized Supreme Education Council (SEC), which has been under fire for poor student performance, among other things.

The shakeup comes months after the Emir pledged to cut the fat in government by reducing redundancies, ensuring only qualified people serve in posts and not squandering money.

Here are some of the main changes at a glance:

The Prime Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, has been appointed as Chairman of both the SCH and the SEC (posts previously held by Sheikh Tamim as Deputy Emir);
The Office of Intellectual Property Rights at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has been abolished. Furthermore, new departments for planning, quality and legal affairs and a new office for lawyers’ affairs will be established at the MOJ;
State-backed Qatar News Agency (QNA) has been brought under the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, and the Culture Minister will be responsible for monitoring its work;
The SEC has some new board members – The Prime Minister takes over from the Emir as Chairman, Dr Mohamed bin Abdulwahid Ali Al Hammadi and Salah bin Ghanim Al Ali join, and Dr. Sigbrit Franke and Dr. Sheikha Aisha bint Faleh Al Thani step down; and
The SCH board also sees some changes – new members include the UK’s former chief nursing officer Dame Christine Beasley and Dr. Jenchen Le, who join fellow international member Lord Ara Darzi on the board.
The announcement follows a shakeup of the committee managing the country’s 2022 World Cup last month.

During that change, the Emir replaced the board of directors with members of his new Cabinet, and renamed the body to reflect its new focus on stadia-building and infrastructure development.

A “Local Organizing Committee” was formed to take over other tasks held by the Supreme Committee, including event and operational planning, as well as coordination with FIFA.

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