Asma Al-Khulaifi, a graduate of the College of Law (‘18), has the makings of a respected legal practitioner: she is poised, expressive, and has attained considerable legal knowledge throughout her legal studies. As an alumna of the college’s inaugural class, Al-Khulaifi knew that the discipline of law would be her chosen career destiny. But it was only after two learning trips to Europe’s most sought-after cities that her career ambitions back home were ignited.
In 2019, she received an LL.M. (Masters of Laws) degree in Public International Law with a specialization in trade and investment law at the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. She was exposed to all legal frameworks necessary to understand human rights, environmental law, investment law, trade law, and international institutional law.
International law, she finds, is inherently applicable to both global and domestic affairs. “International law in today’s global economy affects almost every single policy decision taken by states at the domestic level, and by international organizations on an international level,” she says.
“I would say that it is both an international discipline as well as a discipline that is essential for individuals who want to understand the way in which domestic legal systems are shaped. As a Qatari eager to participate in the country’s high ambitions of developing a competitive and diversified economy, achieving global political stability and refusing to subvert to external pressures, I could not think of another field more all-encompassing than this”
Al-Khulaifi’s time at HBKU’s College of Law meant that she was offered placement opportunities at some of the most reputed legal firms around the world. In her second year of studies, she secured an internship at Van Bael & Bellis in Brussels, where she was first introduced to the principles of trade law. In Geneva, she interned for a second time at Sidley Austin’s trade practice.
“I found trade law to be a wonderful combination of law, economics, and diplomacy. This has encouraged me to delve deeper into the laws, policies, and multilateral institutions governing international trade,” she explained.
Between Switzerland and Belgium, Al-Khulaifi found all the takeaways she needed to make one important life choice -- going back home to serve her country’s institutions.
“I knew all along that I wanted to work for the government,” she said about her recent appointment at Qatar’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry. “I know that if I want to actively contribute to Qatar’s development and engage in high-impact work, the government sector is a suitable place to be”
International and trade law aside, Al-Khulaifi is personally attached to areas of law she believes are a work-in-progress. “There is a lot that can be done in the area of human rights almost everywhere in the world. Qatar has already made significant progress,” she said.
“I believe that our region needs to be more aware of the world’s environmental concerns and work towards having a greater contribution to this global movement.”
The College of Law’s Juris Doctor, LL.M. in International Law and Foreign Affairs, LL.M. in International Economic and Business Law, and Doctor of Juridical Science programs were designed to offer a unique legal learning experience in the heart of the Middle East. The programs are classified as the only of their kind in the country and the MENA region.
Click here to read more about the College of Law’s first Qatari lecturer.