National Day is coming! Will 2013 be the year of the woman in Qatar?

Catch my monthly column in Qatar Happening magazine 🙂 

It’s December and everyone is either gearing up for the National Day festivities, planning for the holiday season, or excited to celebrate the new year. If you’re into fireworks and want to enjoy a time when everyone’s out in the streets with smiles from ear to ear, parades, fireworks, decorated cars (some beautiful and some that make you shudder), and more entertainment than you can handle, make sure to stick around here in Doha.

On 18 December 1878, Sheikh Jassem Bin Mohamed bin Thani succeeded his father as the ruler of Qatar. With that, Qatar became a country with a vision… a country that would find unity, grow rapidly, and reach towards extraordinary heights.  The people of Qatar have always been pushed to make their mark. Education is provided to all Qataris, the 2030 vision gives us a roadmap for our future, and role models like His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani lead by example.

I should really be focusing on the topic of National Day, but I’d like to talk about women. Oh yes. Women. Hard working. Sensitive.  Talented. Perhaps even driven by the fact they want to prove that they’re the future of Qatar.

It’s clear to me that a lot of women paid attention as Qatar grew. Thinking back to my experiences in the work place, I’ve seen women put in double the effort than many men do. They crave responsibilities, study harder, work harder, and take calculated risks. Even the best entrepreneur would envy their work ethic. Of course some would say that I’m generalizing, and I may well be, but remember that I can only talk about my experiences. Need some examples?

Well we’ve got an obvious example like Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Al Missned. An icon. Making a difference in Qatar AND the world when it comes to Education, humanitarian efforts and mixing that up with fashion trends of course. The message I take away from everything that she’s done is: life’s about leaving behind an enviable legacy of positive change.

Then there’s Aysha Al Mudhehki (and her team of course) that have done a fantastic job with Injaz. Did you know that in 5 years, they’ve reached 5,000 students by bringing together businesses, corporate volunteers, and educators to inspire young people to succeed? She then worked with Shareefa Fadhel to launch the Roudha, a women’s cener for entrepreneurship and innovation.

We also have Buthaina Al Ansari who was ranked 19th on the list of 100 most powerful Arab Women for 2012. She made a big impact for Qatarization at Al Rayan Investment AND founded Qatariat, a company that specializes in helping Qatari women advance in the workforce.

I’ve got to also mention, Maha Al Essa, who’s started her own design agency called 974 Design. An agency that, in my opinion, could compete with some of the biggest ones out there. I’d also like to add that she was my first direct report when I was on the online team at Vodafone. She went from someone with no experience, head first, into a new challenge and came out a star. I’m proud of that.

Many also know, Razan Suliman, who created Bylens Photography as a small startup that’s now turned into the biggest local stock photography company in the country.

I should also mention Ashlee Stratt from the Qatar Happening team who really has to be admired for her patience (especially when she’s following up with me on my articles; sorry!) especially since she’s an editor with a million deadlines!

I then see others like Layla Dorani (who has a fantastic start up idea by the way called RAW ME), Shabina Khatri (the female side of the masterminds behind Doha News), Shaikha Al Mudahka and her team (who are putting together the future generation of designers in Qatar with Dress to Impress), and my list goes on.  Yes not all of the people I’ve mentioned are Qataris, but they’re women. Women in Qatar. Women who are making a difference in Qatar.

I wouldn’t be able to list all of the amazing women who are making an impact (and I apologize to anyone who feels left out), but trust me when I say that I admire all your efforts. When I attended and spoke at the Women Leading Change event (organized by Rachel Petero and her team), I was awed. Oh and I promise that when I was speaking on stage, I was shivering because it was cold, not because there were so many strong women staring at me.

Did you know that the majority of top students and graduates are female?

Did you know that they’re better at multi-tasking? I pride myself on being able to focus. You know what’s better than focus? Being able to focus on everything. and STILL getting it all done.

Did you know that there is a steady rise of female managers and executives?

These ladies are stepping it up and I’m worried that many of us guys are going to be left in the dark, especially since they are that figurative light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to Qatar’s future.

Inshallah my daughters, when I have children one day, can be half the women that these amazing people are.

So what do you say ladies? Care to make my prediction come true? We’re still in 2012 and I think I’ve only just seen the beginning. 2013; The year of women in Qatar.


  • Suzanne Grant

    Nice Khalifa!

  • Cathy

    It will definitely be a woman year…

  • Namir Khan

    Nice Khalifa.I Love the Qatar

  • Moodialdhawi

    Good stuff .. Keep it up Khalifa 🙂

  • The decade of the women is upon us checkout the one billion women article it was great to have you speak at Women Leading Change Qatar Khalifa, you inspired me to continue to tell my story!

  • Janani Karthik

    Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Al Missned. Wow… She is Amazing…Wonderful Women… Love her…Love Qatar…Waiting for Dec 18…:)

  • Woman Year maybe, based on your analysis, and hopefully they may not be dependent on us males, even though they can multitask still we males are more precise and more focused.

    Happy National Day Khalifa! and to all my Qatari Friends.
    Looking forward to see your daughter someday inshallah.

  • Lischen M

    Yes most definitely, qatar is really trying to let women follow their dream careers. I’m all for working women but men remain the head at home…with that being said, it’s all about balance. Proud of Qatar initiatives in helping us women progress

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    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.