The field of science in Qatar is full of promises, and it is ever growing little by little to keep up with the world and compete with other scientists and innovations. The state of Qatar has invested heavily in this field and elevated the status of every Qatari scientist and strengthened their journey in discovering the world. Like all other fields, the field of science is divided into many comprehensive subjects, and the ambiguity of each subject is only understood by its explorers. One of the scientific subjects that still pose exciting questions to its explorers is chemistry, an area that was led by the Qatari pioneer Dr. Eiman Mohammed Al-Naama. So, who is Dr. Eman Al-Naama?
I gradually transitioned between jobs in Qatar University, from a teaching assistant, to a lecturer, then to an associate professor, and finally to a professor of analytical chemistry in the field of electrochemical analysis. I tried to direct my research to focus on the field of environment and pharmaceutical industries. After many years of giving in this field, I retried but I still keep an eye on the world of chemistry from afar and with interest.
What encouraged you to major in chemistry?
My love for chemistry began when I was in high school; I was first interested in studying pharmacy, but the major was not available at Qatar University at the time. This led me to study chemistry, which was the closest major to pharmacy. I completed my master’s degree in organic chemistry, and then obtained my doctorate in analytical chemistry in 1989.
Can you talk more about your journey, teaching in Qatar University?
I taught analytical chemistry courses at Qatar University, in addition to publishing specialized practical research in the field of analyzing pharmaceutical drugs in cooperation with some state agencies such as the Ministry of Municipality and Environment at the time. I participated in many university, college, and department committees, in addition to committees inside and outside the university. I was appointed as the general supervisor of the central laboratory of the college of science at Qatar University during 1994-2004, and the supervisor for student affairs in 2003-2004, and then director of the admission department at the university until 2006. During my tenure at the university, I have published 34 papers in specialized scientific journals. I also won the state encouragement prize in the field of applied sciences in chemistry in 2008 along with professor Dr. Hala Al-Essi. That award was presented every two years in different fields by the Ministry of Culture, and I still remember when His Excellency Dr. Hamad Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari – the former Minister – called me a day before the ceremony to congratulate for winning the award with Dr. Hala. I consider this moment in my life to be the most memorable memory in my professional life, as my joy in shaking hands with His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir father -may Allah protect him- is indescribable and I still think about that special day.
Have you faced any challenges in your career?
In the first part of my scientific career, postgraduate studies in chemistry or similar subjects were not available in Qatar. This led to my registration in Ain Shams University in Egypt to complete my postgraduate studies, and the study required attending a full academic year in Egypt to study the theoretical part. As for the practical part, I was required to complete it in Qatar University’s research laboratory under the supervision of a university doctor from Qatar University Ain Shams University. I remember conducting sample analysis abroad, while personally purchasing special chemicals and requesting access to international research. Registering for a Ph.D. was much easier than for a master’s, I did not have to go to Egypt often as material and equipment were now available in the laboratories of the department of chemistry that allowed me to conduct my studies. In this experience, a memory that stands out and I cannot forget was the theft of the laboratory that I worked in at Ain Shams University on my first day attending.
How did you successfully balance between your various responsibilities?
I got married after my first year in university, and praise be to Allah – I was blessed with children that were interested in science which gave me the ability to help them in their studies. At the beginning, it was not easy to balance between work and teaching my children, but praise be to Allah, through the exerted effort I reaped good seeds.
What is your advice for women in Qatar?
My advice to Qatari women is perseverance, patience, prudence to obtain positions, continuous work in scientific development, and seizing every opportunity. Today more than ever, material and resources are in abundant availability. More than that, we do enjoy a rich scientific environment, from universities to research institutes, in addition to the state’s encouragement through its national programs for scientific research. I also advise women to manage their time right, so that they reap the maximum benefit as well be of benefit to their society. At the end of the day, even with all these advices, it is life that teaches you.
- Interview written by Fatima AL Naimi and Anoud Al Kuwari.
- Interview was edited to improve readability and flow.