GLOBAL CONNECTIONS: the Near/Middle East
March 8, 1999: Qatar becomes the first Gulf nation to allow women to vote in municipal elections.

Qatar is the first Gulf country to allow women to vote in municipal elections following a ruling by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in 1998. Six of the 227 candidates for the central municipal council are women. More than 40 percent of the voters are women, although none of the six women candidates wins.

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The reform policies in tiny Qatar are jeopardized by price shock. Qatar's new leader, Sheik Hamid, has given women the right to vote and has a foreign policy that reaches out to everyone, from Israel to Iraq.