Who is Ali Sherif al-Emadi? Qatar Arrests High-Flying Finance Minister

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Qatar has ordered the arrest of Finance Minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi over alleged embezzlement, abuse of power and other crimes. The attorney general of the gas-rich Arab nation said the arrest Al Emadi was part of an investigation into misuse of public funds.

"The Attorney General ordered the arrest of the Minister of Finance Ali Shareef Al Emadi to investigate what was mentioned in the reports of crimes related to practicing public office, which were damage to public funds, abuse of public office, and... of power," the Gulf emirate's official news agency QNA said.

Investigation Underway

An probe into Al Emadi's alleged misdeeds is underway, QNA reported. "The findings and investigation are related to his government position as finance minister and not to his board member roles at other entities," a source told Reuters.

There was some speculation that Al Emadi might have fallen out of favor with the top echelons of power in the country. Al Emadi had recently been removed from the position of the chairman of the Qatar Financial Centre. The powerful position had put him in a key role as the Financial Centre was the platform through which foreign financial firms are registered in Qatar.

Who is Al Emadi?

Ali Sherif al-Emadi, Qatar finance minister
Qatar finance minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi detained. Reuters

Al-Emadi became the finance minister in 2013. He was handpicked by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and named minister just a day after the new Emir took power.

Besides holding the position of finance minister, Al Emadi is also on the board of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, which handles more than $300 billion of funds. Al Emadi has been Qatar's finance minister since 2013.

QNB, Qatar Airways and Qatar Investment Authority

Al Emadi is also chairman of the board of directors of Qatar National Bank, the largest bank not just in Qatar but across the the Middle East and Africa. He is also the president of the executive board of Qatar Airways.

Al Emadi polished his reputation in the financial circles by leading the Qatar National Bank from 2007 to 2013 as its chief executive.

The sacked minister had earned reputation earlier for guiding the nation's economy during the 2014-2015 oil price crash.

He was also named as the best minister in the region in 2020 by The Banker.

Arabian Business reports that Al Emadi oversaw heavy spending in connection with the preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which Qatar is hosting.

This article was first published on May 7, 2021