I am a journalist and am supposed to be objective and all that razzmatazz. But I am a woman first, and I have a ringside view of what’s happening in Qatar… and I can’t help but be totally biased about Sheikha Mozah.
Now, looking at the call for a ‘revolution’ one realises much of the anger is targeted towards her. Seriously, what IS there to protest? Your interests are taken care of, your future is being taken care of, education, health care, employment, opportunities… ok, you have every right to ask for something more. But it does seem a little odd that the ‘more’ you are asking for may set you back by a few hundred years.
This is not my country, so I don’t really have a right to dictate what is good or not good for them. But let me tell you why it’s good to have someone like the Sheikha around. Because she shatters stereotypes, because she has vision, and because she is bloody BRAVE. How easy would it be for her to just sit back and enjoy all that personal wealth and freedom? Why should she put herself on the line? Everyday, with every step she takes, she is bringing about a change that a lot of men in the region can’t digest.
So what’s the best they can do? Call her a CIA agent, call her a Jew-lover, call her a charlatan. She is not perfect, and in my ‘umble opinion her fashion sense leaves a lot to be desired. There are huge human rights issues, especially against expatriates, that she hasn’t even remotely addressed. But there is so much she has done. There are opportunities that she has opened up for her people, and for the Arabs, that cannot be blindly brushed aside.
This is not a an analysis of her as a leader or person. This is just my layperson take on why she is important, and why she is BRAVE. Did I say brave? We usually associate that word with those in the line of fire, or who are on the streets standing up the powers that be. We use that word on people who fight for a cause against all odds.
So why do I call her BRAVE?
Haute couture-clad, jet-setting, palace-living kind of bravery? Yep. Because she is fighting against the stereotype forced on women of her faith and race by millions of people in the region, and beyond. Because she questions and stamps on all the false surmise made about ‘her kind’. Because she is able to think beyond what divides and hurts, and is able to focus on what will help grow and succeed. Because she knows education above all else is the most important legacy she can leave behind. Whether the kind of education or if seeking USA’s help is the right way is debatable.
Of course having a US air base here really weakens the whole Arab brotherhood bonhomie.
Yet, what Qatar stands to lose, if protesters’ wishes does come true, is far greater than what might or might not be gained.
Here we saw a revolution of sorts a decade ago. Only thing, the revolution happened top-down. Not a textbook case, but it did happen. It did turn around things. And we are not talking about malls and glass buildings alone.
Ok, before you start on sycophancy blah, blah — name one other woman you know who has gone out on a limb to do what she does? She is not fighting, she acts. And she definitely doesn’t fit the image of a rebel — she is too rich for that. However, it’s for these very reasons that she stands out from the crowd. This is something those who live in the Gulf will understand better — the dynamics here doesn’t apply to even the rest of the Arab world. Things are so skewed.
Every time I read a report on her, or see her picture with an international dignitary I hold my breath. Because I know there are millions — no exaggeration — of men in the region who will be seeing that same imagery, reading those same words with anger and indignation.
And she knows that I am sure. Still, she goes about her business, in her fancy turbans and head scarves, pantsuits and flowing gowns, Jimmy Choos and Dior, cocking a snook at all the disapproving faces. That’s why she is one of a kind.
ps: those not familiar with her, google her. the funds she has started, the investment in education, social development etc.