An Ascendance of Nasser al-Khelaïfi

If Al-Khelaïfi is so cherished by politicians and industrialists, it is because it is perceived as a direct gateway to the Al-Thani, the family ruling over Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world thanks to its gas resources. A close friend of Sheikh Tamim, who succeeded his father Hamad in 2013, Nasser was appointed to Qatar minister “out of the box”, that is to say without specific assignment, a few months after the coronation of the sovereign, who is not yet 35 years old.

Commoner origin

Without Tamim, Nasser al-Khelaïfi would be nothing. Son and grandson of pearl fishermen, who lived comfortably but without opulence, he is not of princely blood. It was at 12 years old, at the Doha tennis club, that he met the future emir, then aged 6 years. The two boys train together all their childhood, go on summer courses on the Côte d’Azur, during which they discover France and develop, according to legend, a passion for PSG.

  • Nasser, who does not have the traced fate of his friend, becomes a professional tennis player. He competed in the Davis Cup for Qatar from 1992 to 2002 (24 victories, 47 defeats) and reached 995th place in the world at ATP, making the pride of Tamim, with whom he built a fraternal friendship. “Nasser is one of the five or six intimate people who surround the emir daily,” observes a French businessman and intermediary with a strong presence in the Gulf. “He is his trusted man, because he is loyal and faithful to him,” adds Arnaud Lagardèr e.

In a country agitated by the power struggles within the Al-Thani family, of which each member seeks to assume a sector of influence, it is better to rely on a close guard. Assured of his total dedication, Tamim makes Nasser, holder of an MBA in economics obtained in Doha, his operational in his reserved field: sport. ” Al-Khelaïfi is one of the young guys with whom Tamim has surrounded himself to replace the old guard of his father, Hamad, and of the former Prime Minister, Jassem” , explains the journalist Georges Malbrunot, co-author of Qatar, the secrets the safe (Michel Lafon editions). Inevitably, since the advent of Tamim, the position of Nasser al-Khelaïfi has strengthened. And its rating abroad has soared. You can visit for a complete briefing about him.

Limited sphere of action

However, it should not be seen to be bigger than it is. If “Nasser has a real power”, he “takes it from the emir”, explains Arnaud Lagardère, who adds, “Between the two, there is only one boss, and it shows.” Whether it’s recruiting of a football star or the purchase of TV rights for a major sports competition, no major strategic decision is taken without the approval of the Diwan, the palace where the sovereign of Qatar resides.

Al-Khelaïfi does not decide, he executes

“Nasser is a soldier in the service of Tamim, who decides everything, continues our intermediary. In Doha, during official meetings, he is not shown any special consideration.” Its sphere of action remains limited: it does not intervene – yet – in matters related to energy, industry or luxury. Through his career, Al-Khelaïfi is a man of sport and the media, who is responsible for “globalizing” the companies PSG and BeIn, which is not so simple.