Emir of Qatar
Hamad bin Khalifa


Getting into trouble while your parents are out of town is a rite of passage. I know I’ll never forget the time my family accidentally left me home alone at Christmas and I had to defend our house from burglars with a series ingenious booby traps made from everyday household items. I will also never forget the time, one year later, when I accidentally boarded the wrong plane and ended up in New York City while the rest of my family was in Miami, and then had to defend another house from burglars with a series of ingenious booby traps made from everyday household items.

These types of misadventures are not uncommon, so many parents can relate to Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, whose son (confusingly named Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani) got into all sorts of mischief while his father was on vacation in Switzerland. “I was relaxing in my hotel room in Geneva,” Khalifa recalls. “I turned on the radio, hoping to listen to ‘Car Talk.’ But instead of hearing irreverent humor and car repair tips, I hear that my son has staged a coup!”

“After ‘Car Talk’ was over, I called him right up and gave him a piece of my mind!”

The deposed Emir laughs about the incident now, but that was not always the case. “I was fuming mad, and it took me awhile to get over it. He was only 44 years old–what does he know about running a country? Ah, but kids will be kids.”

“I admit that I might have tried to have him assassinated,” Khalifa added with a chuckle.

Khalifa urges others to learn from his experience, and he offered this advice for parents planning a vacation:

  • Leave someone you trust in charge.
    Khalifa regrets trusting Hamad run the country while he was on vacation. Looking back, he says he is not all that surprised by his son’s behavior. “Hamad has always been a bit of a troublemaker,” Khalifa confessed. “Once when I was vacationing in the French Riviera, he drove my Porsche into a lake! To raise money to pay for the repairs, he invited over a bunch of prostitutes and turned my palace into a brothel for the night. I thought it was funny at the time, but now I see that it was a warning sign.”
  • Don’t let your kids get too friendly with the militia.
    Another move Khalifa says he regrets is making his son Commander in Chief of the Qatari Armed Forces. “In retrospect, that’s kind of a no-brainer,” said Khalifa.
  • Just bring the kids along.
    Khalifa encourages parents to avoid the risk of being deposed altogether by taking their kids on vacation with them. “I know they can be a pain, chanting ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’ from the back of the learjet. But when you get home and find that you still hold the reins of power, it will all be worth it.”

When asked how he finally managed to make peace with his son, Khalifa sighed and said, “Just look at that face. Could you stay mad at the little rascal?”