Me, my wife and our baby – a personal story of how the Gulf is letting down its women by denying their children the right to nationality


The children of Gulf women married to foreigners are not automatically granted nationality, unlike their male counterparts (image source

I promised I’d write on my experiences as a father and I’m having to start things off on a serious note. As some of you may know, my wife is from this region but I am not. We welcomed into our lives a little princess earlier this year.

The sad story is that in the Gulf region children born to Gulf women, in other words women with a nationality from the six GCC states, who are married to foreign men do not receive their mother’s nationality. This is in contrast to Gulf men who are married to foreign women. Their children do receive their father’s nationality.

It’s important to us that our little one cherishes both her cultures and that she’s recognized as both. She’s fortunate to have a European nationality through me, but, try as we might with visits to interior ministry offices and other government bodies, we realized that there is no formal process for our daughter to become a Gulf national like her mother. This is the same all over the Gulf, despite sporadic exemptions to the contrary.

I’ve heard countless reasons for this, such as the need for Gulf women to marry Gulf men, and the legal requirement that a Gulf national should have only one passport. To me, any discussion is bogus. If I was a Gulf male and my wife was a European foreigner our daughter would have qualified automatically for both nationalities.

I hear lots of news about progress being made it terms of women’s rights in the Gulf, which I applaud. However, until Gulf women are able to give their children everything that their male counterparts can, I cannot contend that women here are anywhere near to being equal to the men.

I hope for change, if not for my wife’s generation, then at least for my daughters. I hope you will join me in calling for a change to how Gulf women and their children are treated in the Gulf.

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.”