Qatar's former emir breaks leg in holiday accident

AFP , Tuesday 29 Dec 2015

File photo: Qatar's former emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (Reuters)

Qatar's former emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has broken a leg while on holiday, government officials said in a statement on Tuesday.

The statement confirmed that the former ruler, known formally as the "Father Emir" in Qatar, had been flown to Switzerland for emergency treatment following the incident at the weekend.

"On Saturday 26 December, His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani was flown to Zurich, Switzerland for emergency treatment after suffering a broken leg while on holiday," read the government statement.

"Following a successful operation, his Highness the Father Emir is currently in Zurich recovering and undergoing physiotherapy treatment."

The royal family were thought to be holidaying at a Moroccan resort in the Atlas mountains, although it is unclear how the sheikh broke his leg.

The injury was also confirmed by one of the former emir's sons, Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad, on social media.

"For anyone who's asking about the father Emir, he's good and well, praise God," tweeted the sheikh.

"He broke his leg and had surgery and now is in the physical therapy phase... thanks for asking."

Official state media, the Qatar News Agency, also reported that the current emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, had received a phone call on December 27 from Morocco's King Mohammed VI and discussed "issues of common concern".

It was reported on Monday that as many as nine planes belonging to Qatar's royal family had landed in Switzerland over the weekend because of a suspected health emergency.

Swiss civil aviation authorities confirmed that a number of planes from the Qatari royal fleet had made unscheduled landings at the Zurich-Kloten airport.

According to Zurich's Tages Anzeiger newspaper, the first Qatari plane, an Airbus, landed from Marrakesh shortly after midnight on December 26.

A second flight landed at Zurich-Kloten at 5:00 am (0400 GMT) the same day, with a third plane coming 15 minutes later, both having originated in Doha, the paper reported.

According to Tages Anzeiger, the medical emergency in question was so significant that six more planes linked to the Qatari royal family and government landed in Zurich through the weekend.

A Swiss foreign ministry spokesman told AFP on Monday that members of the Qatari royal family were staying in the country, but gave no further details.

Sheikh Hamad, who celebrates his 64th birthday on January 1, ruled Qatar from 1995 to 2013, overseeing its transformation into one of the richest countries of the world.

He stepped down from power in June 2013 when he announced in a televised address he would hand power to his son and current ruler, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

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