The Economic Role of Qatari Women: Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises as a Model


Al Jazeera Centre for Studies released a new book on 14 June 2023 entitled, Al-Dawr al-Iqtisadi lil-Mar'a al-Qatariyya: Al-Mashari' al-Saghira wa al-Mutawassita Namudhajan (“The Economic Role of Qatari Women: Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises as a Model”), by Al-Anoud Ahmed Al Thani, Senior Researcher at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.

The book highlights the extent of Qatari women's contribution to the Qatari economy, specifically in the small and medium-sized enterprises sector. It seeks to identify the main projects that attract Qatari women as well as those that do not appeal to them, and the implications in both cases. Additionally, it analyses the policies and roles played by various entities such as the government, civil society organisations, educational and training institutions, financial institutions and business incubators, in order to empower women economically and eliminate the obstacles and challenges they face in the stages of establishment, implementation and development. Furthermore, it explores the problems and challenges facing women in their work particularly in the small and medium-sized enterprises sector, and presents effective ways to overcome them, culminating in a vision that generates a set of recommendations that can be presented to the relevant authorities in Qatar.

The importance of this book is that it addresses a highly significant phenomenon in Qatari society, namely the contribution of working women in the small and medium-sized enterprises sector and the active role their projects play in strengthening the economy and promoting development.

The author poses and seeks to answer several questions throughout the chapters of the book: Do the general practices in Qatari society support women becoming successful businesswomen? What are the reasons for the success of some small and medium-sized projects undertaken by Qatari women and the obstacles faced by others? How can we benefit from successful experiences in neighbouring Gulf countries whose societies share many characteristics, customs and traditions with Qatari society?

The book is divided into an introduction and three chapters. The first chapter reviews the state of the Qatari economy by analysing overall indicators and examining the rates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and inflation, the size of the general budget, the trade balance, and their impact on human development indicators. This chapter also examines the crises and challenges that the Qatari economy has faced over the past two decades and the strategies adopted by the state to deal with them. These crises include the global financial crisis, the Gulf crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and their economic and social repercussions and so on.

In a general overview of Qatar's strategy to overcome the crises and challenges, the book reviews the efforts made by the state to enhance leadership in the global energy market and the expansions witnessed in the oil and gas sector. It also highlights the measures and policies adopted to stimulate the national economy, preventing it from entering a phase of contraction and recession experienced by many economies worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second chapter focuses on the economic role of Qatari women, addressing it through an analysis of indicators that measure the extent of Qatari women's contribution to the country's economy and the factors and reasons that have facilitated their involvement. The chapter discusses the legislative and legal framework and its evolution, including the position of women in the constitution and the laws that regulate their work and ensure their rights, such as laws related to trade, commercial companies, human resources and labour.

Moreover, the second chapter reviews the political leadership's vision for women and the approaches adopted to support their participation in the labour market and contribute to development. It also dedicates space to examining the economic activity of Gulf women, aiming to identify strengths and weaknesses in their economic experience and leveraging it to develop the business environment that affects the economic activity of Qatari women.

The third chapter, however, clarifies the nature of Qatari women's contribution in the small and medium-sized enterprises sector chosen as a model for the research. It provides an overview of the rate of economic participation of active Qatari women and analyses the distribution of their economic activities. The chapter sheds light on the projects that Qatari women take on and those that they hesitate to engage in, explaining the underlying reasons.

This chapter also highlights the nature of the problems and challenges facing Qatari women's work in the small and medium-sized enterprises sector. It specifically mentions issues such as project concentration in certain fields, limited funding opportunities, the difficulty of balancing work requirements with household responsibilities, and the persistent stereotypical views held by a segment of society that attempts to confine women and women’s economic activities within predefined frameworks.

The third chapter relies on the opinions of some Qatari female entrepreneurs themselves, as well as the views of experts and specialists, to examine these problems and challenges. It provides numerous recommendations that could enhance the economic contribution of Qatari women and overcome the obstacles they face. These recommendations address various aspects, such as the importance of establishing a unified database and information system encompassing everything related to small and medium-sized projects. This includes project selection, policies, procedures and necessary laws during the establishment and operation phases, as well as marketing, promotion and staying updated on new global markets.

The author, Al-Anoud Ahmed Al-Thani, is a Senior Researcher and Advisor at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies. She currently serves as the Manager of Publishing and Research Services at the same institution. She obtained a master's degree in Public Administration from the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies in 2022 and graduated from the Qatar Leadership Centre in its 2014-2015 cohort. Her research interests span various areas, including women's issues, human rights, management and economics. She has authored several books, including At-Tajriba at-Tanmawiya li-Dawlati Qatar: Dirasa Tahleeliyyah li-Raka'iz Ru'yat 2030 (“The Development Experience of Qatar: An Analytical Study of the Pillars of Vision 2030"), Qatar Bi 'Uyun Ajnabiya: Suwar 'Alamiya ("Qatar Through Foreign Eyes: Global Perspectives"), Tajribat al-Hukm al-Rashid fi Qatar: Rawafi' at-Tanmiya al-Mustadama wat-Tamkin al-Mujtama'i (1995-2013) (“The Experience of Good Governance in Qatar: The Levers of Sustainable Development and Social Empowerment [1995–2013]"), and Ath-Thawabit wat-Tahawwulat fi Masarat Tatwir al-Mar'a al-Qatariya (1995-2013) ("Constants and Transformations in the Course of Qatari Women’s Evolvement: 1995-2013).

The book is available in Arabic here.