The Qatar Armed Forces will soon have its first female fighter pilot, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah has said.
"We have a quite a good number of girls in the armed forces, and there are even helicopter pilots who graduated recently," he told the Najah Qatari Festival at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre on Wednesday, the Qatar News Agency reported on Thursday.
HE Sheikha Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani and HE Sheikh Thani bin Hamad al-Thani were present at the event which featured the most important achievements of the Ministry of Defence as well as the National Service and its strategic importance in creating a generation capable of defending the country.
Dr al-Attiyah said the top priority of the Qatar Armed Forces is to attract Qatari youth to join the highly professional armed forces that can protect the air, land and sea, and the capabilities of the country.
Referring to women in the armed forces, he said a goof number is currently employed in the medical, IT and administrative fields.
"The armed forces are working towards developing the field of military research and industrialisation," he said when asked about plans to manufacture weapons locally and for self-reliance.
Asked where the GCC crisis stands after two years of blockading Qatar, Dr al-Attiyah reiterated that the country was clear from day one about being open to dialogue.
"Qatar is now looking to build new partnerships with new allies, while at the same time focusing on providing stability to citizens and residents."
On the impact of the crisis on the armed forces' strategy, he said the emphasis is on the security of the state, the GCC and the entire region.
"There was no doubt that the country would face threats at some point, and that is why there is a focus on developing capabilities to face any dangers."
As for the National Service, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs recalled that the idea came from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
"The National Service is like an insurance contract. The initial four-months period that was agreed upon proved to be insufficient, prompting extending the term of the service to one year."
Dr al-Attiyah called on parents who do not see the value of the National Service to visit the headquarters and experience the programme for a day.
"The criticism about the National Service delaying the participants' college education by one year was wide off the mark, given that studies showed that 65% to 70% of those who graduated from high school wait between a year-and-a-half and two years before enrolling in a university.
"The programme helps the Qatari citizen gain vital experience in defending the homeland, in addition to providing him with skills that will be essential for his life."
On the military high school, Dr al-Attiyah said it was a result of the directives of the Amir on developing the armed forces.
"It is not just limited to the purchase of arms, but also the development of minds. The state needs youth in land, naval, and air forces, and that requires having a school that provides early preparation for the needs of the armed forces."
Earlier, Dr al-Attiyah spoke about the most important milestones of his career, which began when he joined the military school in 1977 after the sixth grade. From 1987 to 1995, he served as a fighter pilot in the Qatar Amiri Air Force. He then established a law firm in 1995, where he continued to practice law until 2008.
In 2003 he was appointed chairman of the National Human Rights Committee, in 2008 as the Minister of State for International Co-operation, and in 2011 as the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Cabinet member. Between 2013 and 2016, Dr al-Attiyah served as the Foreign Minister too.