Manama: Until Wednesday, few people outside Qatar were aware who Shaikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani was.
However, when on Wednesday, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud received Shaikh Abdullah, the report generated wide attention and observers wanted to know who he was.
Curiosity increased when Saudi Arabia announced that upon recommendations from Prince Mohammad, King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud issued a series of orders that included reopening the Salwa border crossing, the only terrestrial link between the two countries that was shut down on June 5 when Riyadh severed its diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar and did not allow any Qatari to come into the kingdom unless it is for Umrah or Haj.
King Salman also ordered that Qatari pilgrims could fly from Al Ahsa and Dammam airports in the Eastern Province to Jeddah or Madinah for free and that Saudi Arabia’s planes would be available to transport pilgrims from the Qatari capital Doha, also for free.
Shaikh Abdullah apparently succeeded in his mediation efforts where many others had failed.
On Thursday, he was received by King Salman whom he thanked for accepting his mediation and for his decisions to assist Qatari pilgrims and visitors.
Late on Friday, Shaikh Abdullah launched an account on Twitter and within hours, he was a sensation on the social microblog, with the number of followers hiking up inexorably to reach more than 200,000 within hours.
He has so far posted only eight tweets, starting with the customary Islamic habits of praising God before embarking on any action.
“In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful,” was his first tweet.
In the next six tweets, he referred to the generosity of King Salman and Prince Mohammad for accepting his mediation and for the kindness of the Saudi king in issuing the orders that tremendously eased the Haj process for all Qataris.
In his last tweet, he explained the reason for his action.
“What I did was only for the sake of Qatar and its kind people and their comfort. It was warmly received by King Salman and Crown Prince Salman and got their attention. May God protect them both. I pray to God to reward us according to our intention,” Shaikh Abdullah posted in his last tweet on https://twitter.com/abdullahthanii. The post was re-tweeted 40,000 times.
Shaikh Abdullah is a senior member of Al Thani family that has been ruling Qatar.
His grandfather, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Jassem Al Thani, was the third ruler of Qatar, his father, Shaikh Ali, was the fourth ruler and his brother, Ahmad, was the fifth ruler.
The three ruled from 1913 until 1972 when Shaikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani, the father of the former Emir, Shaikh Hamad, and the grandfather of the current Emir Shaikh Tamim, deposed his cousin and became the ruler of the peninsular country.