Qatar is one of the Middle East’s leading countries that empower women and take care of women’s rights. In addition, Qatar provides conducive and empowering environments for women in education and business, and that’s why you will see many women in Qatar in prominent positions. Her Excellency (H.E.) Lolwah R.M. Al Khater is one such Qatari woman whose name is synonymous with women empowerment and equality in Qatar.
She belongs to the generation of Qatari women that witnessed educational reforms in the country, like scholarships and educational universities, especially for women, and has been instrumental in showing the world that women in Qatar are going places.
Multi-faceted governmental roles and positions
H.E. Lolwah Al Khater is Qatar’s spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA Qatar) and was recently also given the added responsibility of being the assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani.
This is what she told ‘Women of Qatar’ about her work with the MOFA Qatar:
“My work with the ministry - Thank Allah - is enjoyable despite the many pressures. Everyday is different from the one before it. This is an important factor me because the most troubling thing about the oil and gas field was the repetition. I also like the interdisciplinary nature of my work, as it combines communication, media and politics with diplomacy. The funny thing is that if I were asked in the past about the possibility of getting involved in media or politics I would say: "That is impossible". It was impossible for many reasons, including my own unwillingness as I had very strong views on both areas. However, what convinced me to enter my current career is the crisis. I was working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before the blockade, but I was mainly focused on research. However, upon noticing the pressure my colleagues were facing at the time I believed that it was my duty to participate in providing my abilities and expertise to my country.”
Other prominent positions held by H.E. Lolwah Al Khater include Minister Plenipotentiary of the MOFA Qatar, Director of Planning and Quality at the Qatar Tourism Authority (now known as the Qatar National Tourism Council) and Research Project Manager at the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.
She also been appointed as a board member of Media City and is the Executive Director of the Doha Forum.
Positions outside of the government
Along with these positions within the Qatar’s government, H.E. Lolwah Al Khater works as an Independent Policy Analyst and participates in different conferences and publications. She is also the co-editor of “Policy-Making in a Transformative State: The Case of Qatar”, and has even written a book called "Educational Outputs and Labour Market Needs: A Study on Labour Market Issues and Methods of Addressing Them".
She is a Research Associate at The Oxford Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Forum at St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford in the UK and a board member at The Institute for Palestine Studies. She has also held the position of part-time lecturer at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.
Education in sciences and literature
Though H.E. Lolwah Al Khater’s personal gravitation was towards literature, people around her encouraged her to take up her education in the field of science. That’s why she has a Master’s of Science in Computing.
She told ‘Women of Qatar’:
“The idea was to balance between these two elements: what a person naturally gravitates towards and what they are good at. I was good at science, but I did not necessarily like it. I studied this major for my bachelor's and master's degrees, but all my side readings in return had nothing to do with science.”
All the while that she continued her education in the sciences, she continued her pursuit of literature and through her readings, she was able to find out more about the struggles of Arab expats so that she could preserve her own identity. Since she was in London at the time, she was able to visit the ‘Dar Al Saqi’ quite frequently and read the latest publications they had. She was also able to order books from Cairo and Beirut through a new website that had been created called ‘Nile and Euphrates’.
Eventually after working for some time in the oil and gas sector in Qatar, H.E. Lolwah Al Khater made the switch from science to literature and obtained a Master’s of Arts in Public Policy and is a Dphil Candidate at the University of Oxford in the area of Oriental Studies looking at the question of Islam and Modernity in the context of the Arab Nahda.
She told ‘Women of Qatar’ in an interview how she eventually was able to purse her passion for literature after the internal conflict between science and literature in her mind:
“I was in an internal conflict for a period after graduating. I worked in the oil and gas field, and even though everything related to my work was wonderful I was still in conflict. The subjects of the meetings were limited in a certain direction, as the focus in this area does not go beyond its scope and so this limited view did not meet my broad interests. I confess that I did not have the courage to change, as it is very difficult to change after spending years in a specific field and change would mean that the years that have already passed may be useless and would be considered as if I wasted years of my life. This perception was what prevailed the culture at that time, but I overcame this thought and decided to major in public policies in Islam for my master's degree in. This major was excellent for me as it combined different areas that I was interested in. I studied for my master's degree while working, and for me this was the focal shift from science.”
H.E. Lolwah Al Khater is a firm believer that people should follow their passions, explore what they want to do, take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves as they pass through life and stay true and honest to oneself and to others. ('Women of Qatar').
Cover image credit: Lolwah Al Khater
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