If you want something doing big, do it in Doha.
I guess that this is definitely the impression I feel I’m making being one of the very few females in the commercial real estate market here. And whilst much has changed within the UK over the recent years, women still only represent 15% of the property and construction industry.
“So how are you finding it?”.. I have been asked many a time. Actually fine. It depends on the nature of your personality. I’ve learnt to be quite bullish in my work environment due to working within an industry and Investment teams previously that are predominantly male. Although it really does getting some used to; only the other day a male whom I was to have a meeting was reluctant to shake my hand. The concept of women working in the professional environment in Qatar is relatively new and for some completely unfamiliar. I can say however that it isn’t all bad. I had a meeting with a CEO of a large real estate firm today here in Doha; he shook my hand firmly and conversed with me regarding the project more than he did with my male colleague.
When working in a Middle Eastern country, it is only natural to respect the dress code. Modesty is key, but it is also flexible. Dressing modestly not only gives you face, but allows for you to feel a lot more comfortable during meetings with people and companies from the Middle Eastern vicinity. It’s not as scary as the internet makes out (trust me) – I tend to wear a long shirt or top covering my shoulders with a long pencil skirt, or trousers and if I’m being honest my working wardrobe has not changed much from working in London. That being said, the women I have seen in my office building wear a pair of Valentino’s with a Lady Dior to work with at least two hours worth of make-up. Credit to them because I don’t know how they find the effort!
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Qatari women who are extremely successful in their careers, but I can only feel that a larger change is yet to come. Only 0.1% of Qatar’s Parliament is represented by women!
In alignment with Qatar’s 2030 National Vision, women’s advancement and development need to be supported for the benefit of cross-border investment. Something I know that Qatar is striving for given the need for additional revenue streams to the oil and gas market.
Qatar Women’s Professional Network (QWPN) is a great way that this notion is being pushed and I envisage getting involved with seminar’s and discussions at the QWPN over the coming months!
Some women are lost in the fire. Some are built from it.