Qatar elections to be held in 2013 - Emir

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Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar, September 2011Image source, Reuters
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The emir said he was confident Qataris could "shoulder the responsibility" of voting

Qatar will hold elections for its advisory council in 2013, the Gulf state's emir has said.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was quoted by state media as saying the polls, which would be the country's first legislative elections, were needed to build a modern Qatar.

Under a constitution adopted in 2003, 30 of the council's members would be elected and 15 appointed.

So far Qatar has only held municipal polls. Political parties are banned.

"We know that all these steps are necessary to build the modern state of Qatar and the Qatari citizen who is capable of dealing with the challenges of the time and building the country," the emir said.

"We are confident that you would be capable of shouldering the responsibility."

Tiny, gas-rich Qatar has been raising its international profile, playing a prominent role backing the uprisings in the Arab world.

It is home to pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, and took part in Nato's military campaign in Libya.

Qatar is also due to host the football World Cup in 2022.

Qatari citizens, men and women, over the age of 18 will be entitled to vote. The country has a population of about 1.6 million people, of which 80% or more are foreign workers.