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DR. AMAL AL-MALKI

Mother of two girls

Founding Dean – College of Humanities and Social Sciences - HBKU

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ACCEPTANCE

Dr. Amal Al-Malki is the Founding Dean of Hamad Bin Khalifa's College of Humanities and Social Sciences in Qatar, and has made major contributions to Qatar’s educational system. She initially studied in Qatar’s Arab dominated public educational system. However, she and her siblings spent most of the summers in boarding schools in London, which exposed them to different cultures and made them bilingual at an early age.  Dr. Amal Al-Malki graduated from Qatar University and then went for further studies to London. When she returned to Qatar, she faced difficulties in readapting herself with the cultural changes that had taken place. As she was the youngest PhD holder in Qatar, in 2003, joining Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMUQ) as the first Qatari faculty member was one of the first challenges she faced. Prior to becoming a fulltime faculty member at CMUQ, Dr. Al-Malki, had to go to the main campus in Pittsburgh to teach and then come back to Doha as a visiting faculty. When she started teaching in Qatar, Dr. Al-Malki developed a strong connection with her students at CMUQ. She taught them composition and encouraged them to represent themselves effectively on paper through creative writing, and discovering cultural identity. In addition, she taught postcolonial literature, theories of translation, and Islamic Feminism.

Dr. Al-Malki was a strong proponent of writing, because she believed it is a kind of therapy that allows people to discover themselves, and encourages dialog amongst communities. However, she faced major criticism for trying to be a change agent, and for challenging outdated traditional customs, and addressing issues related to women rights..  In effect, Dr. Al-Malki identified with post colonialism feminism, which deals with the clashes between modernity, traditionalism and culture shifts. These were the issues that characterized Qatar while it was transitioning to modernity. Dr. Al-Malki played a major role in propagating amongst students that feminism existed in multiple forms and levels in the Middle East, and in different parts of the world. She was often labeled as rebellious because of her refusal to accept that women were inferior to men. However, she sought change, which is why she supported feminism and included it in her teaching and research. As such, she published a book on Arab women and how they are represented in Arab media. In effect, Dr. Al-Malki’s ideas about feminism primarily stem from her strong beliefs in human rights, equal opportunities and social justice.

Dr. Al-Malki has also played a major role in turning around the belief that being half Qatari is degrading. She asserts that pure race does not exist any longer, because the world is rapidly shifting towards multiculturalism. Consequently, most of us have to negotiate between two sets of identities and languages. In order to propagate such ideas, she became a social justice activist and started a hashtag on twitter called “I’m Half Qatari”. She argued that there is no difference between Qatari students from multicultural families that have a Qatari father or a Qatari mother. She insists that an individual having a Qatari father does not mean he/she is superior to an individual with a Qatari mother. The hashtag generated interesting discussions and encouraged Qatari people from different backgrounds to participate and express their feeling and opinions in this regard.

Dr. Al-Malki established the Translation and Interpreting Institute in 2011 and was its Executive Director till 2015. Thereafter, she became the Founding Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hamad Bin Khalifa University. Here, she attempted to fill the educational gaps, particularly in terms of empowering women, which she did by introducing a new Master’s program on women society and development. It becomes apparent from Dr. Al-Malki’s achievements that she is very intuitive and creative, and enjoys working on several projects at a time. She believes that we are here in this world to gain experiences, which is best done through education and dialog. Dr. Al-Malki appreciates the support she got from Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, who asserted her presence in society and was instrumental in creating awareness about the social acceptance of women, and in opening up all professions to them. Although women rights in Qatar improved, a lot still needs to be done by tackling more complex issues related to women in Qatar.

Dr. Amal Al-Malki began her professional life as an ambitious professor, and is now active in building strong relationships with her graduates. She feels a deep sense of achievement and pride when she observes them serving Qatari societies, which is why she continues with her role in facilitating generations of students to graduate, and motivating them to make bigger achievements for their societies. She is always open to being pointed out for her flaws and has the deep desire that others should continue with what she has been doing in her life. In the next five years, Dr. Al-Malki aspires to push women’s agendas, to establish a women’s affairs ministry, and to make Qatar a leading country in gender equality. She wants to have laws introduced that will safeguard and institutionalize women’s interests.

Piece of advice from Dr. Amal:

“Never give up on your dreams. I love the younger generation because I see them as our hope. They are more accepting and inclusive. I’d wish this generation leads us towards a society that is fair and promotes freedom and equality. I’d tell women don’t compete to become the best in a certain career but to be the best human. There’s lack of humanity. Promoting differences between gender or race will get us nowhere. Let’s remember that those are not differences, they are diversities, and let’s accept that. I am very hopeful because I can see it in the generation of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and the younger generation.”