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At the Doha show, a Qatari businesswoman shines among the big names in jewellery.

DOHA: At the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition, a Qatari businesswoman caught people’s attention by competing with industry giants and going against the grain in the conservative country.

Noora al-Ansari is a Qatari woman who runs her own business and deals with customers herself. This is unusual in Qatar, a wealthy Gulf state where more women are working but few have made a name for themselves in business.

Since she opened her first Papillon store in Doha, the capital, customers have asked her about where she is from.

“When women saw me standing in Papillon, they wondered if I was Qatari or not,” she told AFP. Her booth was next to well-known names in the world of jewellery.

“They weren’t used to seeing a Qatari woman working in her shop,” she said.

“When they heard, they said, “We are so proud of you.” You have beautiful pieces. And that gives me hope.”

The week-long exhibition that ends on Saturday shows how rich Qatar is. Its huge gas reserves have made it one of the richest countries in the world, but women’s rights have been a point of contention there.

Ansari said that she calls the annual show, which has been seen by more than 30,000 people, “the big Qatari wedding” because people in Doha look forward to it so much.

A steady stream of luxury cars pulled up outside the exhibition, where designs from Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, and other big names from around the world were being shown.

The price of a Cartier necklace was $21 million.

“Men own it all.”
Ansari used to work as a manager in the education and oil industries. In 2008, she made her first solitaire ring and started her business three years later.

In 2022, she moved her store to one of Doha’s most expensive malls, where she now competes with international brands.

“I’m very proud to be a jeweller, especially as a woman, because all the big names in Doha and all the jewellery stores here are owned by men,” she said.

She also said that her customers liked how she took the time to explain the “four Cs” of diamonds, which are cut, clarity, colour, and carat.

“When I went to jewellery stores, no one told me what a diamond was, why it was valuable, or why I should buy one and wear it. We keep hearing that a girl’s best friend is a diamond “”AFP,” she said.

Ansari says that when she first started, there were only one or two Qatari designers at the Doha show. Now, there are at least ten of them there.

“As a local brand, it’s an honour to be among the big names in the world. It means that our jewellery shows how we like things here and how high our standards are “she told me.