Qatar's finance minister Ali Shareef al-Emadi has been arrested over alleged abuse of power and misuse of public funds, state media said on Thursday.
While there have been previous high-level arrests in corruption cases in Qatar, official sources said Emadi is the highest-profile figure to face such allegations under the current rule of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
“The attorney general ordered the arrest of Minister of Finance Ali Shareef al-Emadi [to] question him on what was mentioned in reports regarding crimes related to civil service that involved damage to public money, abuse of function, and abuse of power,” state media said.
The official Qatar News Agency said that an investigation had been launched, but did not give any further details.
Emadi has served as finance minister since 2013. He is also the president of the executive board of the national carrier Qatar Airways and chairman of Qatar National Bank's board.
One Qatar-based diplomat said “the arrest was unexpected.”
“It is always good to see governments upholding their laws and cracking down on corruption and abuse of power,” the diplomat added.
Another Doha-based diplomat told AFP: “This is actually great, it shows Qatar is taking corruption seriously — if that is what it is found to be — and helps build the image of the rule of law being complied with.”
Gas-rich Qatar is one of the smallest Arab states with a population of 2.8 million, most of whom are foreigners.