QATAR - Economy
Managing Director, US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC)
With an MBA degree from the University of Leicester and a BFA degree in interior design from Virginia Commonwealth University, a holder of the Business Leader Award at the Women of Change 2022 by Doha Women’s Forum, Sheikha Mayes bint Hamad Al Thani is an extremely accomplished businesswoman overseeing many businesses across different sectors in Qatar. She has been part of YPO, global leadership community of over 30,000 extraordinary chief executives, where she served as chapter chair for the Qatar Chapter, the chief administration officer at Silatech, director of administration and HR at DFI, and part of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s delegation to the 4th US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue in November 2021. Currently, she is the Qatar Managing Director for the US-Qatar Business Council and owner of M Power Investment Group.
There is often a misconception that women in the Middle East are limited in their pursuits or lack freedom of choice. Qatar, however, has aimed to eliminate this stereotype and promote the active role of women in the country. Businesswomen in Qatar play an important and leading role in a variety of sectors in the Qatari economy ranging from finance to hospitality, to healthcare, to sports, and many other sectors. In fact, Qatar has a 59% female labor participation rate, which is above the global average, and the highest in the Arab world. This statistic represents the importance that Qatar has placed on the economic participation of women and their pivotal role in the development of Qatar’s knowledge-based economy. Not only do they participate in these areas, but Qatari women also occupy key leadership and decision-making positions, whether they are in the public sector, private sector, start-ups, SMEs or large corporations. It is an indisputable fact that Qatari women are a central part of the country’s growing economy.
It is difficult to point to a few aspects that have encouraged the economic participation of women in Qatar when in reality it has been a collective effort over the course of many years. The government has empowered women in the country through access to education, favorable laws, economic participation, and career opportunities. To the extent that even in the Qatar National Vision 2030, the country has specifically placed an emphasis on the effective participation of women in the country’s labor force. Qatar demonstrates its commitment to this goal for women as they enter the professional world. For example, 60% of grant recipients from the Qatar Business Incubation Center were women. The innovation center at QSTP has also seen a dramatic growth in the number of female entrepreneurs. In addition to achieving the highest female economic participation rate in the Arab world, Qatari women’s unemployment rate is the second lowest globally. In fact, 30% of decision-making positions in Qatar are occupied by women, and more women are employed by the Qatari government. Several women have senior roles in many sectors including the recent appointment to the Shura Council by HH the Amir, where 29 of the candidates announced were women. While these initiatives provide a solid foundation for female success, women also require inspiration and motivation, which in large part comes from the successes of brilliant Qatari women. Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser has been seen as a “standard bearer” for Qatari women and the role that they can play in the society and the workplace. There are countless other women I could name as role models, but the list would be endless. This just goes to show that Qatar has worked tirelessly to empower its women in all segments of society.
Qatar has made considerable efforts to remove barriers and enhance women’s rule at all levels, but by no means am I suggesting that Qatar is at the end of its journey for the empowerment of its women. There are certainly areas that can be improved upon such as the promotion of women to executive level jobs. In order to prompt more female participation in the economy, I encourage women to invest in themselves and seek opportunities provided in order for them to excel and enjoy areas they fit in. By leveraging the resources provided by the government, each woman has the ability to create a strategy to improve in her area of expertise and gain the know-how to operate in any segment. This includes striving to reach for top management level positions in the country as well.
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