Businesswoman blasts Qatar Chamber for bias

 01 May 2014 - 3:43

Suhaila Rabia Hareb. Kammutty VP

DOHA: A Qatari businesswoman says she was not allowed to contest the upcoming May 12 election to the board of directors of Qatar Chamber (QC) on the ground that her paperwork was incomplete, and so had to approach the government for help.
Suhaila Rabia Hareb said she is eventually in the fray after the Ministry of Economy and Commerce helped her file her nomination. Suhaila told reporters here on Tuesday the QC, representative body of the private sector, remains hugely male-dominated. Just one of the 17 members of the Chamber’s board is a woman, she said.
A particular lobby of influential businessmen gets elected to the board in every poll and it doesn’t want others to fight the election and challenge their sway.
Addressing a news conference, Suhaila said one effective way to ensure adequate representation of women on the QC’s board is to have a quota system. The strength of the Chamber’s board is currently 17 members. This should be raised to 21 and four members should be women coming in through a quota system, she suggested. “The government should help fix the quota,” she said.
“It is important that businesswomen are helped to widen their role in the Chamber,” she said.
According to Suhaila, since an increasing number of businesses are run by expatriates they should also be given due representation on the board.
In a reply to a question on the criticism that businesses of Qatari women are actually run by men, she said: “The situation in this regard is very similar as many men run their own business, women also do, and no differences. As far as I am concerned I am running my business (in the services sector) on my own.”  
Quotas should also be fixed for the various sectors of the economy. Sport is such a vibrant sector and yet it doesn’t find representation on the Chamber’s board, she said.
Suhaila said the electoral system in the QC should be reformed and groups should not be permitted to perpetuate their influence.
According to her, many members of the Chamber are critical of the organisation and say that it does nothing but collects fees from them for being members.
The Chamber has failed to inspire youth, both male and female, to take to entrepreneurship, she said. 
Suhaila also said that the younger generation fights shy of starting up businesses because of soaring rents.
The Chamber has done absolutely nothing to make sure that both commercial and house rents come down, said Suhaila. She said in reply to questions that she faces tough competition in the May 12 poll.The Peninsula