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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Newly-elected Shura Council to benefit all Qataris, voters say

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Results are expected to be announced on Saturday evening.

Hundreds of eligible voters have rushed to the polling stations early on Saturday to cast their vote for the country’s long-awaited Shura Council elections.

Long lines of voters were seen at 8am, with hundreds eagerly awaiting to tick their ballot papers at polling stations across the nation, marking a major milestone for the Gulf state.

Voters have told Doha News that the elections have given Qatari citizens a strong means of representation and a more active role in ensuring the growth and advancement of the nation’s society.

“It is a very special opportunity for us here in Qatar to be able to vote for the council. I hope we, as citizens, have done our best to cast our vote sincerely,” Malika Mohammed Al Shraim, Manager of new media at Katara, told Doha News after submitting her ballot card.

“For me, participating in the Shura Council election by voting is important. We need to have a civic participation within the Shura Council elections. There needs to be the voice of the people within the council as well.”

A voter from district 17 said the move to hold the vote signals major developments for Qatar.

“I am here to vote and it brings me joy to do so considering it is the first [legislative] elections for the State of Qatar and we thank the amir for this positive initiative for Qatari nationals. I find great joy in the elections and I know that my country is moving from one development to another, from the better to the best,” she said.

Candidates had just over two weeks to campaign and earn people’s trust, with most advocating to solve prominent social issues such as climate change, education, and employment.

Dozens of Qatari women are also running as candidates in the country’s first major stride towards pluralism and participation.

“Women need support and to be acknowledged or else no one would think of us. But now we have someone to listen to us and assist us. We, Qataris, need Qataris to help us,” another voter told Doha News.

“[Topics of] health and supporting women and education, they’re all benefiting us. It is for the benefit of the country and ours. One should seek to benefit their country, because their country’s success is based on their own.”

The Qatari said gender inclusivity in the Shura Council aims to represent all citizens in the government, adding that the significant number of female candidates is a sign of political maturity.

In an exclusive interview with Aisha Jassim Al Kuwari earlier this week, the district 22 candidate said women sitting as members on the council would allow for better insight into specific laws.

“Women’s participation and presence on the Shura Council is important because there are certain issues that women connect with and understand differently to men, such as women’s rights, particularly for those who are divorced or widows,”  Al Kuwari said.

Previously, four women were appointed in the Shura Council of 2017.

It is yet to be announced how many women will represent the community in the newly-elected body, but the number of female candidates running in the election suggests a more positive step in gender inclusivity.

“We are very happy that there are a lot of women in the list of candidates across the country. We wish them all the best, and hopefully next election we would have even more women representation in the council seats,” Al Shraim added.

Eligible Qatari citizens will continue to vote at a total of 30 districts until 6pm tonight when polling stations close. Only one candidate can be chosen by each voter.

Results are expected to be announced on Saturday evening.


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