Since the 1980s Qatar has achieved prominence and even notoriety in the Middle East, and recognition around the globe. This transformation is a direct result of the palace coup d’état in 1995 when Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah Al-Thani overthrew his father and set a new direction for his country.
Qatar’s newfound prominence can be seen as the result of three overlapping strategies for survival and influence: cultural branding, financial investment and policy projection. These strategies have been desirable, even fundamentally necessary, because of Qatar’s small size combined with its enormous wealth. However, Qatar’s policies are not without controversy, in particular the accusations that it is supporting Islamist groups and political parties, and that its support for revolution and democracy abroad is coupled with continuing repression at home.