Doha, Qatar: Qatars emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is preparing to hand control of the gas-rich Gulf state to his son, Qatari diplomats and officials said.
A cabinet reshuffle is also expected, in which powerful Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani may lose his post, or at least the foreign affairs portfolio, the sources said.
A Qatari official on condition of anonymity said that the emir is convinced that he should encourage the new generation of politicians and rulers.
He hopes to transfer power to the crown prince, Sheikh Tamim (bin Hamad al-Thani), and to carry out a ministerial reshuffle and appoint younger ministers, the minister said.
Sheikh Tamim, born in 1980, is the second son of the emir and his second wife Sheikha Mozah.
The crown prince is joint commander of the armed forces and head of the countries Olympic Committee.
The political sources said that the premier, a cousin of the emir, could lose the foreign affairs portfolio he has held since 1992, and maybe even the premiership, which he has held since 2007, in a reshuffle.
A French diplomatic source said that the emir could take a step back, that is, not completely retire but take on a more honorary position, in such a way that his son could take on more responsibilities and become the man in charge.
Qatar has become a key regional player thanks to its support for the Arab uprisings.
The prime minister has played a key role in Qatars foreign policy, which saw the country take part in the armed intervention against former Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
Qatar also actively supports Syrian rebels who have battled the regime of President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.
The emir, born in 1952, came to power in 1995 in a palace coup, and has overseen the transition of modern Qatar into a key regional and international player.