Designer bemoans lack of official support

January 19, 2013 - 4:40:27 am

DOHA: For Fatima Al Khuzaei, an upcoming Qatari fashion designer, it has been a long and bitter struggle to make her mark in a field that has of late been witnessing fierce competition.

“My family has been very supportive of my endeavour, but alas, I can’t say the same of the government, which talks so much about helping aspiring entrepreneurs,” says Al Khuzaei.

In remarks to this newspaper, she said she was still running her ‘abaya’ designing and stitching business from home. “Shops are so expensive to take on rent. The government should provide us commercial space on subsidised rent.”

Speaking in her stall at the Made in Qatar exhibition, which ended yesterday at Doha Exhibition Center, Al Khuzaei said a lot of young Qatari girls were talented and could turn out to be competent entrepreneurs. “All they need is government support — in terms of training and financial backing.”

In GCC states like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, women entrepreneurs get active support from the government. Women fashion designers there are even encouraged by their governments to visit neighbouring countries to expand their business, she said.

With Fatima Al Khuzaei was her younger sister, Khulood, who holds a degree in marketing from London. Both sisters speak fluent English. “I work as a model for my sister,” Khulood said.

Al Khuzaei’s business initially grew through word of mouth publicity as women used to ask her about ‘abaya’ designs whenever she went to parties and weddings or visited her relatives and friends.

Her key selling points are attractive and modern designs that incorporate traditional Qatari designs, and moderate pricing.