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Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 12:58am
(CNN) — (CNN) -- Qatar, a tiny but influential Persian Gulf nation, will have a new leader.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, is handing over power to his son, Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
He made the announcement in a televised speech Tuesday morning, and declared the day a national holiday.
"God only knows I never wanted power for personal reasons and I never sought power for any personal motive," the outgoing emir said.
"It is all about the best interest of the nation that made us decide that it is time to start new page in our history where the new generations take over with their great qualifications and ground-breaking ideas."
The outgoing emir is 61. His son is 33.
The energy-rich emirate has backed Syrian rebels in their fight against the Bashar al-Assad regime, and Taliban militants have set up an office there amid diplomacy to end the Afghan war.
The prestigious soccer World Cup will be held there in 2022.
Social media has been abuzz over the news, with people thanking the ouggoing for his efforts. One tweeter said, "U changed a tiny desert hamlet to a powerful economic empire. Deeply indebted."
Another said, "I have watched Qatar become an economic, sports, education and political leader. #ThankyouHamad for everything. You will always be in our hearts."