Qataris began voting on Saturday in the Gulf Arab state's first legislative elections for two-thirds of the advisory Shura Council in a vote that has stirred domestic debate about electoral inclusion and citizenship, APA reports citing Reuters.
Voters trickled into polling stations, where men and women entered separate sections to elect 30 members of the 45-seat body. The ruling emir will continue to appoint the remaining 15 members of the Council.
"With the chance to vote, I feel this is a new chapter," Munira, who writes children's books and asked to be identified by only one name, told Reuters. "I'm really happy about the number of women standing as candidates."
The Council will have legislative authority and approve general state policies and the budget, but has no control over executive bodies setting defence, security, economic and investment policy for the small but wealthy gas producer, which bans political parties.
Latest government lists showed 26 women among about 183 candidates across 30 districts in the country, which has for several years held municipal polls.
Campaigning has taken place on social media, community meetings and roadside billboards.