Hayfa Al-Abdulla,Director of Innovation at Qatar Science & Technology Park, on how female Arab entrepreneurs are increasingly raising their voices and sharing their idea
It is very important for me to engage with the startups at QSTP, because it is such an enjoyable and exciting journey for all of us, and we both help each other. We make sure that the startups have all the support they need to develop their ideas, that they are connected, and feel empowered to take their ideas forward.
It is good to see that, in recent years, more women have shown interest in the field of technology and innovation. For instance, in the latest edition of the Arab Innovation Academy, which is one of the biggest programs that we run at QSTP, 50 percent of the participants were female ̶ and they were so engaged. We’ve also noticed that female students tend to be more excited compared to their male peers. In fact, it is a great matter of pride for us at QSTP to see that, over the years, we have been receiving an increasing number of female participants in our various programs, and we look forward to this continuing.
Women who have succeeded in the field of science and innovation are a huge inspiration for others, which bodes well for the younger generations.
It has sometimes seemed that, in the past, although women had the knowledge and the capabilities needed for innovation, they lacked the courage to come and join the programs. Today, I’m happy to say that I see more women standing up, raising their voices, and sharing their ideas. Women who have succeeded in the field of science and innovation are a huge inspiration for others, which bodes well for the younger generations. I see young, innovative women taking responsibility for helping each other, too, which is so important, as we must support one another in moving forward.
In the past, when I started my career, it was a little bit challenging for an Arab woman to fit in because we felt like we didn’t belong in a male-dominated area like technology and innovation, like we were strangers. But today it is a totally different scene. Women and men have equal opportunities, especially in the fields of engineering and science, so now it’s much easier for a woman to enter into and work in those fields. But, of course, we want to see more women entrepreneurs in the technology field.
You shouldn’t be just following. If you have an idea, go ahead, gather your team and go to any place that can support you in starting your venture.
Young women need to have confidence in themselves. Your male counterparts are not any better than you; you are smart; you have studied in the same area; you should just have the courage to lead. You shouldn’t be just following. If you have an idea, go ahead, gather your team and go to any place that can support you in starting your venture.
When I was young, I liked to work on technologies and explore innovative ideas. I enjoyed trying to come up with ideas for new inventions. The job I have now at QSTP as the director of innovation is just brilliant.
For me, it was always asking the question of why we are not innovating in the Arab world anymore? And that is the question I didn’t have answers for. We don’t want to see all the innovations coming from the West – this is something that hurts me.
If we think about it, we have a history of innovation and invention in the Arab world, but today we seem to have fallen behind a bit. I want to bring back that spirit of innovation and ambition in the Arab world. It is a big mandate, but I am confident that being part of QSTP is helping me to encourage that original spirit so that great things will be achieved