The deposed Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, has turned
to PR professionals in a bid to regain his Gulf kingdom.
Sheikh Khalifa, who was ousted by his son Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-
Thani in a bloodless palace coup last June, lives in exile in Abu Dhabi
but has made no secret of his intention to return to power. In February
he was linked to an unsuccessful coup attempt by a former Qatar trade
minister which tried to restore him to the throne.
In the latest twist to the dynastic struggle, German PR agency Bernd Spath International (BSI) has outlined a plan of action to drum up
support for the Sheikh’s return in Europe and the Middle East.
The 12-page report, which has been obtained by the BBC’s Arabic service
magazine Al-Mushahid Assiyasi, BSI proposes a year-long campaign
involving media relations activity, political lobbying and setting up
pages on the Internet to promote the Sheikh’s cause. The cost of the
campaign is estimated at dollars 1.8 million (pounds 1.2 million).
Bernd Spath, BSI’s owner and managing director, explained that Sheikh
Khalifa had first expressed interest in a publicity campaign in February
during a visit to Abu Dhabi by a group of German parliamentarians.
Spath, who accompanied the delegation, prepared the PR report the
following month and is planning a further visit to the Sheikh in the
next few weeks.
He stressed that BSI had not been formally hired by Sheikh Khalifa but
was, for the time being, giving advice on a voluntary basis. ‘We are in
a state of standby,’ he said. ‘We have submitted a detailed offer to
undertake activities for His Highness and it is up to him to decide.’