In what has been considered a strong move towards the implementation of his democratic reform plan, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, appointed the country's first woman Cabinet minister.
Sheikha bint Ahmed Al Mahmoud was named minister of education, succeeding Ahmed bin Khalifa Al Mansouri. She was sworn in at the Ruler's Court in Doha.
In a telephone interview, Sheikha told Gulf News that she will pursue the government's plans in education. She said: "As a member of the Higher Education Committee and a minister I will spare no efforts to execute the policies laid down by the Crown Prince who is the chairman of the committee."
"We need to revamp our education system to cope with the needs of our market without neglecting our religion and heritage,".
She said the education system needs to be revitalised to prepare our children for the new challenges.
Sheikha, a mother of four, two boys and two girls, has been in the education field since mid-70s.
She has a degree of Arts in Arabic Language and held several posts in the ministry of education including teacher, and a principal of a secondary school. She became undersecretary of the ministry in November 1996 and remained in her post till her appointment yesterday.
She thanked specially the wife of the Emir, Sheikha Mouza Al Misnad for her support to women.
Dr. Mohammed Al Musfir, of the University of Qatar and a social and political activist welcomed the appointment of Sheikha.
He told Gulf News that intellectuals in Qatar and the Gulf praised the Qatari government for giving such an opportunity to a woman like Sheikha who, through her knowledge and expertise, will contribute to the development of education.
"I wish her all the best in her new assignment and I hope that she will utilise her expertise to become a role model in the region," Dr Al Musfir said.
Last week, Qataris overwhelmingly approved their first constitution in the state's first step toward democracy.
On Monday, the government announced the formation of a human rights committee with representatives from the ministries of foreign affairs, interior, justice, health, education and the civil service.