True pioneers are those who face the barriers and obstacles that stand before them with courage, and push for the change they believe in. There is no easy path to success, but it is achieved through hard work and dedication. In this interview, we shall get acquainted with Khulood Jawhar Al-Hamidi, a Qatari woman who realized her dream of becoming one of the first female pioneers in Qatari media. Who is Khulood Al-Hamidi?
I am a broadcaster for Qatar Radio. I have been working there since 1997, and I still work there. When I was in elementary school I liked the school radio, so I practiced and mastered the skills necessary to host it. I became so good at it that I did not see any other field that would be suitable for me to work in other than broadcasting. So, I majored in media studies at Qatar University and later joined Qatar radio station. I further specialized in broadcasting during my first year at the University, and started training at Qatar radio until I graduated and became an official employee there.
What was the nature of specializing in media at the University in 1997?
It was a tough time to enter Media Studies during the late nineties, as there was not the same level of social acceptance we see today towards women’s involvement in media. At that time, only three Qatari women had an active media presence, and they were Aisha Hassan, Ilham Badr, and Amina Sultan. During that tough time, even my mother was against the idea of me working in media, however my father was the only one who supported and encouraged me to study and work in this field. In the neighborhood we grew up in our neighbors were considered part of the family, and they too were against my decision to work in the media. However, after they saw how my work in the media benefited me, and that there was nothing wrong with it, they accepted my involvement in this field. Since then, they have encouraged me to keep pursuing my career and would listen to my radio broadcasts.
What encouraged you to persist working in this field?
As I told you earlier, I have loved radio and media in general since childhood. When a person gets attached to something in their childhood, it stays with them until adulthood. I was one of the most distinguished in this field since elementary school, and continued to thrive in it in middle and high school until it became too difficult to leave it. I did not have a role model at home in this field, and I was not a passionate follower of broadcasters, but nevertheless I loved the field since childhood. I consider the microphone to be one of the things that I am very attached to, just as others relate to horses or hunting. All of these things begin as a hobby, but they grow up to become our main driving passion in life.
What are the changes that you have witnessed in Qatari media over time?
A lot of changes have occurred in this field. In the 1990s, the only socially acceptable job for Qatari women was teaching. The idea of a profession that requires mixing between genders was unacceptable, and still is to a degree. With the emergence of Sheikha Moza bint Nasser things changed, as the Qatari society saw her as a decent and modern role model for women, and began to accept the idea of professional mixing in society.
What have you learned in your role as a broadcaster?
The lessons I have learned are not limited to my role as a radio host, as it includes all the experiences that I have acquired in my career. If a person has complete conviction of a goal, they must seek to achieve it. More than that, if the person has a good spirit, and has the ability to distinguish between what is right and wrong, then they can succeed despite the obstacles that stand before them.
Are there any other projects that you work besides broadcasting?
No, I am against taking a social media path as a sub-specialty, and against the idea of using my name as a commodity. I think this phenomenon is temporary, and it will disappear with time as it loses the imprint of credibility, and this is extremely important in the field of media and news.
Is there any outstanding memory in your career that you would like to share with us?
I have many beautiful memories. One of the memories that I often recall is being the last female announcer to participate in the Sha’bi (local) radio, which was a training radio station that broadcasters participated in before appearing on the public channel, which is Qatar Radio. This small radio station provided an opportunity for anyone aspiring to become a broadcaster, as it was limited to broadcasting to Doha and the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. This radio only broadcasted folk songs that pertained to specific regions in the Gulf, such as Iraq and Yemen. I used to deal with the broadcasting station as a school, where it trained us to get over the fear of speaking into a microphone. When I was young, my main audience was people at my school, but once I started to work on the national radio my audience grew to a much larger scale. I was in a place where all the residents of the country could listen to me, and that was a very difficult transition to make. The first time I had to present on national radio I could not speak, the microphone was on but I got nervous and could not say anything. The transition from Sha’bi (local) radio to public radio was also difficult, as it was a shift from using colloquial dialect to classical Arabic. Thus, we had to master the classical Arabic language of the media before appearing on the radio. I think that modern media lacks this simple touch, as broadcasters are no longer focused on mastering the classical Arabic language.
What is your advice for women in Qatar?
I take great pride in our customs and traditions, including the cloak (Abayah), and Qatar is one of the rare countries that still adheres to its customs and traditions. I hope we can continue to preserve these beautiful customs and traditions.
- Interview written by Fatima Al Naimi.
- Interview was edited to improve readability and flow.