The rate of women participating in Qatar’s labour force is the “highest in the Arab world” at 59%, and “above the global average,” according to a ranking official of the Qatari Businesswomen Association (QBWA).
Speaking on the occasion of International Women’s Day (IWD), QBWA vice chairwoman Aisha Hussain Alfardan made the statement during a webinar hosted by the Embassy of the State of Qatar in the US titled ‘Qatari Businesswomen: Shaping the Present, Leading the Future’.
The virtual event was held in partnership with the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT), the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC), and QBWA to celebrate Qatari women in business.
“Qatar has a 59% female labour participation rate, above the global average, and the highest in the Arab world. This event showcased the leadership roles Qatari women hold, as well as the advances women are making in various fields,” said Alfardan.
The event, which was co-ordinated by the Office of the Commercial Attaché at the Embassy of Qatar, highlighted the leadership roles of Qatari women in the workforce. The discussion focused on Qatari women’s success in the corporate space, executive management, and boardroom decisions.
Aside from Alfardan, other leading Qatari and American businesswomen participated in the event. They are USQBC president ambassador Anne Patterson; WIIT president Andrea Durkin; MetLife vice president and head of Government Relations, EMEA, Amanda Horan; QBWA board member and restauranteur Mishael al-Ansari; acclaimed entrepreneur and founder of Saikl Reem al-Suwaidi, celebrated chef and founder of Société Sara al-Sayyed; and US Congressman Rick Larsen’s (WA-02) chief of staff Terra Sabag.
The panellists discussed the important role 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. 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,” said Patterson.
Durkin said, “Qatari women’s role in business is a key component of the country’s future economic growth. Through both private and public sector initiatives, Qatar is becoming a leader in women empowerment in the region.”
According to al-Ansari, Qatar has taken “major strides” to support and inspire women both in educational and business pursuits. “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 is occupied by women,” she said.
Al-Suwaidi said Qatari women are supported and encouraged to pursue careers in all industries and given the opportunity to grow into leadership positions. From micro businesses, SMEs, and even in large corporations, Qatari women are a central part of the country’s growing economy, al-Suwaidi added.
Al-Sayyed said, “Each woman should invest in herself, with a strategy to improve knowledge in a business sector and gain a 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. This is reflected both in government and the private sector, and we expect this momentum to continue to build.”
During 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 WIIT–DC Chapter for devoting their annual IWD event, and recognising the association’s role in co-ordinating the event.
The event concluded with the music video ‘Rising’ by Dana Alfardan, which featured behind the scenes footage of the making of the video with Alfardan and the US Air Force band at Central Command at Katara studios in Qatar. Alfardan was inspired to write the song and collaborate with the US Air Force to promote inclusion and connectivity after a visit to Qatar by the Washington Spirit women’s soccer team.
Alfardan is Qatar's only female contemporary composer and was appointed recently as the official composer for Qatar Airways global flights. She 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 FIFA World Cup.