This week, we move from Russia to our next feature, to bring you a conversation with Qatar!
Qatar is a peninsula jutting into the Persian Gulf, to the north of Saudi Arabia, East of Bahrain and West of the Emirates. Since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues, which enable Qatar to have a per capita income almost above the leading industrial countries of Western Europe. Qatar is home to the Al Jazeera television station and is rapidly gaining interest among foreigners as it hosted the 2006 Asian Games and is now scheduled to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Interviewed by Sofia Moiz Tyebally
Today we speak to Miss Wadha Sultan Al- Maadeed.
A graduate student at the HEC Paris in Qatar, Wadha is also one of the 33 participants who were handpicked out of over 400 applicants to participate in the Current and Future Leaders Program, an 18month leadership course at the Qatar Leadership Centre. The program aims to deliver the highest quality leadership training to its selected few, by working with world class business schools and institutions such as The Cambridge Faculty of Arts and Business, Harvard Business School, Al Jazeera Training Centre and HEC Paris-Qatar.
Fluent in Arabic, English, French and Italian, Wadha’s interests lie in learning new languages and international relations. For a year, she worked in close proximity with HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, the first lady of Qatar, as her schedule manager where she prepared agendas for meetings and appointments with other high ranked officials. Currently, she is doing translation work at Diwan Amiri for diplomatic correspondents of the Emir of Qatar. As a result, she is very knowledgeable in Qatar’s international relations with other countries, including Singapore, in terms of international agreements and treaties.
As part of the leadership program, she attended an Asian Study Tour held in Singapore and China that was designed to provide participants with a menu of unique opportunities to learn from companies, industries, ministries including public and private partnerships that bear a close resemblance with current or future national and private developments in Qatar.
What is the best way get to know Qatar?
The best way to get to know Qatar is to live like the locals do. Tourists make the mistake of visiting all the touristy areas without getting to know the locals and understanding their culture. Most foreigners are afraid to talk to the women because they have the impression that they are very conservative and are not allowed to talk to them. But because everyone understands the importance of networking or even just making new friends, you see many more modern women who are out there and willing to talk to them. Qataris are very friendly and we are welcome people to our homes because we believe in a very family-oriented kind of society.
What is the impression Qataris have of Singapore?
This is my second time here in Singapore- I came here about 18 years ago when I was still young but I still recall how it used to be. A lot has changed since with many more shopping centres and an entirely new skyline in the city area. It is clear that Singapore is ever-changing and is very forward-looking.
Apart its super cleanliness, Qataris have the impression that Singapore is also very customer-centric and efficient, and I think this has played a big role in putting Singapore on the world map. Singapore is internationally very well known despite its size and I think that there is much Qatar can learn from it.
What do you think Singapore can learn from Qatar and vice versa?
I think both countries are very forward-looking. Like Singapore, Qatar has set out many plans to be an international hub for businesses which is in line with the Qatar 2030 Vision. I’m not sure what Singapore can learn from Qatar because it seems that both are quite similar in terms of its developmental plans and vision. However, the one thing that strikes me the most is how efficient and fast Singapore is in its execution of its plans. Qatar is quite slow in this aspect so I believe that we can learn how to achieve a greater balance led by Singapore’s example.
Would you consider working in Singapore?
Singapore is a really interesting place and I have really enjoyed the last three days I have spent here. The culture here is very much different from the one in Qatar. I would definitely consider working here if I had the opportunity to do so, but definitely not for the long term because Qatar is still my home and my family is there. People are so hardworking here -it is almost like an ant kingdom. I love how everything is so fast-paced over here, which is what I like. And I think that working here will give me a lot of good and valuable experience that I probably won’t be able to get anywhere else. Singapore has a lot to offer and it will definitely be a nice place to live in especially because things are very efficient and the food is just amazing!