Sheikha Hanadi talks to Georgetown University Students

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04 December 2007

Could I have done it without my education? Could I have done it if I accepted the norms of society?" asked accomplished Qatari business woman Sheikha Hanadi Nasser Bin Khaled Al Thani at an inspirational talk with students at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar on Thursday, November 29.

In an open seminar, Sheikha Hanadi shared with the students her professional endeavors as a leading Qatari woman economist and entrepreneur. In an unconfrontational manner, Sheikha Hanadi proved herself as a professional woman still able to maintain her cultural identity and respect for traditions. An impressive example of a person who achieved balance in her life, she also succeeded in both her roles as a mother and a business woman.

She credits much of her success to the role of HH Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Misned in creating a more open society. "If we did not have the role of Sheikha Mozah in Doha, you would not see any of the ladies around you. This acceptance came from a role model who has started everything," she said.

Sheikha Hanadi is the Founder & Chairperson of Amwal, the first licensed investment bank in Qatar. She is also CEO of Al Waab City Real Estate, a major integrated development project, and Deputy CEO of Nasser Bin Khaled Al Thani & Sons Group.

As much as she supports Qatari women to achieve, she is not a feminist. "I don't believe in any advantages of women over men," she said. "I believe that anything that is going to be built has to be built in co-ordination and partnership between a man and a woman," She stated that Qatari women have historically managed the daily business of Qatari society, while the men were at the sea diving for pearls. It is only with the oil-based economy that segregation started to appear.

The lecture was arranged by Professor Ibrahim Oweiss who teaches economics at the School of Foreign Service in Qatar, "We have selected to host Sheikha Hanadi because she is a strong believer in the role of education. She belongs to academia and has used academia to chart her future plans." Oweiss said, "Sheikha Hanadi is a person who understands the limitless possibilities of international relations as she herself is a national and international figure and Georgetown University is well-known for its international relations programs."

The students asked Sheikha Hanadi questions about the enterprises she is heading and about tips for young people in Qatar to succeed. They wanted to know more about her success story and sought her advice for overcoming obstacles that might rise against their ambitions. "She shared with our students examples that no matter how many tasks are ahead of you, you can always find a way to figure out a balance that would satisfy you and could lead to the accomplishments that you need to achieve," said Oweiss.

Sheikha Hanadi's talk left a very pleasant note in the minds and hearts of the students. Of particular interest to the students was her confidence in women's ability to succeed in both their domestic and professional and professional goals. Amna M. Al-Thani, a first year student from Qatar, mentioned that the talk was very inspiring because the female students could relate to her. "She gave us the encouragement and motivation to keep us working hard," Amna said.

Al Anood Al Thani a freshman at Georgetown agreed. "What makes her great is that she is a female figure in the Qatari economic and business sector when the business world globally is dominated by men," she said.

Zainab Elfil, a freshman from Sudan appreciated this talk as an opportunity to meet accomplished individuals beyond the classroom walls. "It is enriching for us to learn from people who have achieved by applying principles they learned in the classroom, and rising above challenges," she said.

Sheikha Hanadi repeatedly stressed the need for every member's contribution to their community through the effective use of his or her talents. Her pursuits and passion about her work inspired the students in many ways. "I found Sheikha Hanadi to be inspiring in a non-typical way," said Ahmad Gazah, a Freshman from Saudi Arabia said. "She pursued her own career, yet she helped her community through her work."