This article explores the relationship between gender and modern nation building in Qatar, with attention to how Qatari women negotiate the challenges of modern development and social change. The article analyzes Qatar’s strategic use of gendered nation-building initiatives, founded on representations of women as both symbols of tradition and markers of modernity, to facilitate modern development and construct a national identity. In addition, the article uncovers the myriad ways Qatari women respond to the state’s gendered initiatives and dualistic expectations, engage with state conceptualizations of modernity and tradition, and negotiate social and religious gender norms. The article argues that Qatari women’s views reflect their strategic negotiation, rather than uncritical submission or acceptance, of social and religious norms alongside increased expectations for participation in the workforce and higher education. The study, derived from fifteen qualitative interviews with Qatari women aged twenty-six to fifty-six, unearths certain trends in participant views on gender roles, modern development, and tradition. The participants express satisfaction with and a desire to maintain established gender paradigms. They simultaneously emphasize the positive aspects of modernization and express concern about a loss of traditional values.

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