However since Qatar had a change in leadership in 1995, when Sheikh Hamad Al Thani came to power, big changes started to take place. Qatar adopted a policy of independence and openness, leveraging three main strategies. The first was very good relations with neighbours, whereby Qatar worked towards resolving its border disputes with Saudi Arabia. The second was with regards to allies. As a small state, Qatar signed a series of treaties with powerful countries such as the United States, Great Britain and France. Finally, Qatar looked to build itself a brand name, such as in the spheres of sport and religion. Qatar also wanted to build a niche for being a key mediator on regional affairs, cultivating close ties with opposing parties such as with Iran and Israel, Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia.
Qatar’s mediation efforts took a hit with the 2011 Arab uprisings, where it decided to take a stand and support the popular movements against governments. Hence between 2011 and 2013, Qatar moved from neutrality to influence. This caused a lot of problems for Qatar which also saw itself under a media war. Hence when Sheikh Hamad relinquished power to his son, Sheikh Tamim, Qatar regressed to focusing on internal issues. Dr. Abdullah ended the talk with the example of how under greater international scrutiny ahead of the world cup, Qatar announced that it will cancel the Kefala system currently in place.