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.”