Crown Prince Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani's overthrow of his father as ruler of Qatar will likely speed development of Qatar's tremendous gas reserves. Qatar has been criticized for moving too slowly under the previous ruler. Talks will likely continue with the Israelis on a major gas deal that is being pushed by Enron Corp.
In addition, Sheikh Hamad, who was already largely in charge of Qatar's affairs, will likely pursue an independent-minded course that could create some friction with his Saudi neighbors. For instance, Sheikh Hamad is likely to work to improve Qatar's already friendly relations with the Saudis' rivals, Iraq and Iran, according to Mohammed Abduljabbar, senior economist at Petroleum Finance Co., a Washington-based consulting firm.