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Qatar Poet Serving 15-Year Jail Term Pardoned

A Qatari poet, Rashid al-Ajami, has been pardoned and released after serving more than three years of a 15-year prison sentence for insulting the emir, a family member said Wednesday.

"Yes it's true and we have nothing to say but 'Thank God,'" the family member of Ajami, jailed for insulting the emir and trying to overthrow the regime, told AFP, asking not to be named.

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Qatar Announces Major Government Reshuffle

Qatar announced a major reshuffle of its cabinet Wednesday and merged several government departments, state media announced, as the energy-rich emirate deals with the financial fallout from lower oil prices.

Key positions such as the top jobs in the labor and foreign ministries changed in a move seen as consolidating the power of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who was announcing his first major reshuffle since taking power in 2013.

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Putin, Qatari Emir Talk Syria, Economic Cooperation

President Vladimir Putin and the Emir of Qatar on Monday discussed the Syrian crisis, as global powers seek to push the warring sides towards the negotiating table.

"Russia plays a main role when it comes to stability in the world," Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said at the start of the meeting at the Kremlin.

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Gunmen Kidnap 26 from Qatari Hunting Group in Iraq

Gunmen kidnapped at least 26 Qatari hunters in southern Iraq, officials said on Wednesday, the second high-profile abduction of foreigners in the country in three months.

Turkey, which like Qatar is at odds with various Iraqi groups over regional issues, had 18 of its citizens abducted in Iraq in early September. They were eventually released unharmed.

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Flooding Brings Qatar to near Standstill

Qatar was hit by heavy flooding on Wednesday causing gridlock on the desert country's roads as well as closures of schools and the U.S. embassy.

Overnight rain made many roads near impassable for commuters amid reports on social media that even Doha's Hamad International Airport was affected, due to leaks at the estimated $17 billion (16 billion euro) building, which opened last year.

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Qatar's Ruler Visits Mexico

Qatar's ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, arrived Monday in Mexico City for talks with President Enrique Pena Nieto, a first by an emir since ties were established in 1975.

The emir will visit the National Palace on Tuesday for an official ceremony and a meeting with Pena Nieto to take stock of bilateral relations, the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement.

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Qatar Sees Oil Price Recovery in 2016

Qatar's oil minister said on Sunday he saw signs of an oil price rise in 2016 because of a recovery in the global economy and growth in demand.

In a statement, Energy Minister Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada -- who is also acting president of OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries -- said the oil price has "bottomed out" and he sees signs of recovery next year.

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Report: Qatar Funding Education of Asir Supporters Children

Qatar has reportedly tasked al-Jamaa al-Islamiya with spending an Emiri grant to fund the education of the children of Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir's supporters.

Al-Akhbar newspaper said on Thursday that instructions have been given to al-Jamaa al-Islamiya to register the children of al-Asir's supporters, who are either detained or on the run, at al-Iman high school in the southern city of Sidon.

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FIFA Picks Nov. 21 as Kickoff for 28-Day World Cup in Qatar

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will start on Monday, Nov. 21, kicking off a 28-day tournament that will finish on Sunday, Dec. 18.

FIFA's executive committee confirmed the 2022 dates on Friday, six months after picking Dec. 18 — Qatar's national holiday — for the final.

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Qatar Cabinet Backs Changes to Controversial Labour Law

Football World Cup 2022 host Qatar has agreed changes to its controversial "kafala" sponsorship system for foreign  workers, which critics have likened to modern-day slavery, state media reported on Wednesday. 

At its weekly meeting, the cabinet backed draft legislation and took "measures to issue a law regulating the entry, exit and residency of expatriates," the official QNA news agency reported. 

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