The UAE’s Obsession with (women’s) Rankings and its consequences when things go wrong

Is it right to trumpet the times when you come top and make excuses when you're not?

Is it right to trumpet the times when you come top and make excuses when you’re not?

Everybody loves a good ranking, especially when you’re ranked at or near the top of the listings. If you’re doing a survey, a list or a table then you’ll always be welcomed in the UAE. The country has leveraged off its rise up the rankings of global surveys to promote inward investments and position itself as the leading destination in the Gulf and the wider Middle East region for all things consumer and business-related.

However, things don’t always turn out so well with surveys. A recent Global Gender Report published by the World Economic Forum ranked the UAE 107 out of 135 countries listed in the report. The response from one writer, Shaikha Al Maskari, was to list what the UAE has done for women, and to showcase why Emirati women are pioneers in their field.

Rather than review the article (which was actually entitled ‘The Happiest Women in the World’ in print) I’m going to quote selectively. Enjoy the read while this writer throws her toys out of the pram, belittles the rest of the region and the strides the Gulf’s women have made and harps on about what her country has done without really saying much. Or maybe it’s just me…

“The question of women equality in the UAE is always brought under the limelight with a negative connotation that they are oppressed, discriminated against and constrained — especially in the social, cultural, economic and political perspective. To the UAE, it is just a stereotypical challenge; to other Arab countries, the problem is much more complex.”

“The constitution clearly states that women have equal rights as men and it ensures that they are provided equal opportunities in employment and advancement and equal pay at the work place. And in many cases, a female is favoured over a male candidate — form of an unannounced affirmative action.”

“…we have achieved what no other Arab country has in decades. It is no wonder that we take pride in calling her our model and “Mother of the Nation”. Emirati women enjoy vast privileges that are envied. Based on Islamic rulings, the man is the care provider for the family and financial responsibility rests with him.”

4 thoughts on “The UAE’s Obsession with (women’s) Rankings and its consequences when things go wrong

  1. Shaikha Almaskari’s often writes complete hogwash and contradicts reality. I read her comment about a rape case of a european woman in Dubai (in one of her blogs). It was shocking that this modern woman thinks ‘a woman who goes out drink, dance, hold hands and have fun with men asks for sex and deserves to be raped’;

    • I never said she deserved to be raped. I said foreigners need to understand the laws of the UAE before coming to the country. Out of courtesy and for their own good they need to learn about it to avoid being put in situations like the unfortunate one that took place.

  2. Yes you chose selective paragraphs to post but I did mention that we ranked that position- what u failed to mention is that the UAE is only 40 years old and the advancement it has made in providing women w rights no one has achieved in the Arab world making us number one. Not that numbers really matter but what does matter is facts- women in the UAE are happy.

    I often get asked if I wanted equal rights to men and I always say NO- because we have more rights than they do. Believe it or not!

    Yes we can do w more women in leadership positions but it’s often the woman’s choice not to pursue that due to social issues but that is changing.

    The government has put front laws and does so every once in awhile in favor to engaging women in the workforce.

    • Thank you for the comments Sheikha. I agree that huge strides have been made in the UAE in a short time. Where my take is different is that I don’t believe the UAE is any different from Bahrain or Kuwait as an example in terms of the rights that women have. I’d actually argue that women have enjoyed had more rights and freedoms in Bahrain due to the country’s culture. Just look at Riyadat Mall or the number of Bahraini female entrepreneurs.

      Ironically, despite the lack of laws promoting and supporting them, I actually feel that Saudi women are the most progressive in the region, maybe because they’ve had to fight for everything that they have today.

      I don’t feel that it’s right to say that we are better than others when there’s many things to learn from them and that’s how the article read for me. I hope I am wrong, but this sense of wanting to be number one isn’t always healthy for me. We can’t be the best at everything that we do, but we can learn from others, we can collaborate and become better people as a result Sheikha. Again, thank you for your comments.

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