Qatari Businesswomen: Shaping the Present. Leading the Future.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 9, 2021 - The Embassy of the State of Qatar in the United States in partnership with the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT), the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) and Qatari Businesswomen Association (QBWA) hosted a virtual event on March 9 at 9am EST titled, “Qatari Businesswomen: Shaping the Present. Leading the Future.”

This virtual event, coordinated by the Office of the Commercial Attaché at the Embassy of Qatar, will highlight the leadership roles of Qatari women in the workforce on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Their discussion will focus on Qatari women’s success in the corporate space, executive management, and boardroom decisions. The webinar will feature keynote remarks from QBWA Vice Chairwoman Ms. Aisha Hussein Al-Fardan, as well as other leading Qatari and American businesswomen including:

●      Ambassador Anne Patterson, President, USQBC

●      Ms. Andrea Durkin, President, WIIT

●      Ms. Amanda Horan, Vice President and Head of Government Relations, EMEA, MetLife

●      Ms. Mishael Al-Ansari, Board Member, QBWA and Restauranteur

●      Ms. Reem Al-Suwaidi, Acclaimed Entrepreneur and Founder of Saikl

●      Chef Sara Al-Sayyed, Celebrated Chef and Founder of SOCIÉTÉ

●      Ms. Terra Sabag, Chief of Staff, US Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02)

“Qatar has a 59% female labor participation rate, above the global average, and the highest in the Arab world,“ said QBWA Vice Chairwoman Ms. Aisha Hussein Al-Fardan. “This event showcases the leadership roles Qatari women hold, as well as the advances women are making in various fields.”

Through this virtual exchange, the panelists discussed the important role that Qatari women play in the country’s rapid economic development. Currently, Qatari women hold executive positions in all industries and government, in addition to being strong leaders in a variety of fields, including the medical and engineering sectors as well as entrepreneurship.

“Qataris know no country can become an economic powerhouse without valuing the contributions of all women,” said Ambassador Anne Patterson, President of USQBC. “Businesswomen from the US will find a warm welcome and excellent opportunities in this rapidly growing market.   For women, Qatar is a great base to do business in the rest of the region.”

Through the Qatar National Vision 2030, Qatar has put a large emphasis on the effective participation of women in the country’s labor force. In fact, the Qatar Second National Development Strategy 2018-2022 specifically addresses how “taking advantage of highly educated Qatari women” is central to the country’s transition to a knowledge-based economy.

“Qatari women’s role in business is a key component of the country’s future economic growth,” said Ms. Andrea Durkin, President of WIIT. “Through both private and public sector initiatives, Qatar is becoming a leader in women empowerment in the region.”

The Government of Qatar has empowered women in the country through access to education, economic participation, and career opportunities supporting growth. In Qatar’s higher education system including over seven American-based universities, there are twice as many female students enrolled in universities as males with nearly two-thirds of all graduates in Qatar being women. As women transition to the working world, Qatari females also receive important incentives and assistance to grow their business with 60% of grants recipients from the Qatar Business Incubation Centre being women. These initiatives, among others, have resulted in Qatari females achieving the second-lowest women’s unemployment rate in the world.

“Qatar has taken major strides to support and inspire women both in educational and business pursuits,” Ms. Mishael Al-Ansari, Board Member of QBWA. “As a result, today in Qatar there are twice as many female students enrolled in universities as males and 30% of decision-making roles in the country occupied by women.”

To support more women in business, the Qatari Businesswomen Association was established in 2000 to highlight women’s contributions to economic activity and to provide a networking platform to empower professional women. Additionally, the Supreme Council for Family Affairs established the Women’s Affairs Committee in 1998 to propose policies, plans, and programs to upgrade the potential of women culturally, economically, and politically.

“Qatari women are supported and encouraged to pursue careers in all industries and given the opportunity to grow into leadership positions,” said Ms. Reem Al-Suwaidi. “From micro-businesses, SMEs, and even in large corporations, Qatari women are a central part of the country’s growing economy.”

During the course of the event, the Office of the Commercial Attaché at the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Washington presented an Acrylic painting by acclaimed Qatari artist, Maryam Al-Mulla, to the association of Women in International Trade (WIIT) – DC Chapter, for devoting their annual, International Women’s Day (IWD) event, and recognizing the association’s role in coordinating this event that celebrated Qatari women and their economic contributions. Ms. Al-Mulla, a member of the International Art Society and Qatari Art Society, expressed her happiness in having created an artistic work that embodies the depth of the relationship between the United States and the State of Qatar. Al-Mulla expressed gratitude to the Qatari government for having provided her an opportunity to participate in the IWD event, which she says, “confirms the State of Qatar’s support for women professionals in all fields.”

“Each woman should invest in herself, with a strategy to improve the knowledge in a business sector and gain the know-how to operate in any segment whether it be F&B, real estate, or fashion. By following this, a woman will be perceived as an asset to others. Throughout the country, women are growing in prominence in Qatar’s business environment and hold key leadership positions,” said Chef Sara Al-Sayyed. “This is reflected both in government and the private sector, and we expect this momentum to continue to build.”

The event was concluded by Dana Al-Fardan's music video, "Rising," which featured behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the video with Ms. Al-Fardan and the United States Air Force band at Central Command at Katara studios in Qatar.  Al-Fardan was inspired to write the song, "Rising," and collaborate with the U.S. Air Force to promote inclusion and connectivity after a visit to Qatar by the Washington Spirit women's soccer team.

Ms. Al-Fardan is Qatar's only female contemporary composer and was appointed recently as the official composer for Qatar Airways global flights. Ms. Al-Fardan is an advocate for peace through cultural dialogue and has composed the official song for the Lusail stadium, which will host the opening and closing matches of the 2022 World Cup.