India has for the first time nominated a woman ambassador to any Gulf state. Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, currently India's Ambassador to Sweden, has been appointed ambassador to the Gulf state of Qatar.
The Gulf states have so far been accepting only men as ambassadors. However, with the changing times and change in the profile of the Gulf states, particularly Qatar, the status of women in the Gulf society has undergone a transformation.
Barring Saudi Arabia, the rest of the Gulf states are modernising at a rapid speed and the share of the women employees has increased manifold.
Qatar has a sizeable Indian population of almost 300,000, including some illegal immigrants. A big majority of Indians hails from the state of Kerala.
Gopalan Wadhwa is from Kerala and speaks fluent Malayalam despite being educated in north India.
She belongs to the 1979 batch of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and has served in Beijing, The Hague and Geneva. She has also worked for the International Labour Organization (ILO), where she was in charge of the UN division.
Incidentally, her husband Anil Wadhwa is at present Indian ambassador to Oman.
"The posting to Doha is a very challenging job. To protect the interests of the Indian community will be my priority apart from strengthening the friendly relations between India and Qatar," Gopalan Wadhwa told IANS over telephone.
She is likely to join her new assignment in August or September after completing her term in Sweden.