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Feminism in the United Arab Emirates Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 2nd, 2020


The paper researches the problem of women rights in the UAE and the Middle East. It aims at the investigation of recent movements in the state and explains of the idea that a significant improvement of views on women and the decrease of sexism could be observed. Qualitative research design and the method which investigates peoples experiences are chosen to conduct the study. To prove the hypothesis an interview among 20 women aged from 20 to 40 is used.

Participants belong to different social groups which increases the relevance of data. In general, respondents admit the gradual improvement women rights and a decrease of sexism. The study could be used for the further investigation of the issue in the region.


The 20th century could be characterized by great changes in peoples mentalities and shift of priorities towards the tolerance and equality. The rise of civil rights movements along with feminism resulted in significant processes in the society that stimulated the reconsideration of the role of women and provided them with numerous opportunities to contribute to the creation of new approaches and ideas. These processes also helped people to work in a different way. New ideas that women had were important for the Western world, and it tried to support them. However, regarding the Middle East, the situation remained complex.

The inability to accept innovations and create the ground for the reorganization of the society was preconditioned by a traditionally different perspective on women rights and their role in society. However, the last several years the gradual enhancement of womens position in the UAE have been admitted. Under these conditions, the importance of the problem for the further evolution of the UAEs society becomes crucial. The findings of the given paper could be used to create the basis for the further investigation of the issue in the region.

Literature Review

First of all, the current situation in the UAE and its perspectives on the role of women are mainly preconditioned by the ratification of the Convention for Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on 6 October, 2004 (International Federation for Human Rights, 2010). For this reason, the government of the state made several steps towards the change of policies related to the issue and creation of the appropriate environment.

However, there are some reservations related to CEDAW that state that the Islamic law remains an important factor regarding the womens rights. A great scope of these aspects and the crucial impact the Islamic law has on the society in the UAE leave many barriers for the improvement of the situation in the sphere. That is why it is topical for the country.

Therefore, the great role of the question in the evolution of different states becomes clear when looking at research works that discuss it. For instance, Al-Jenaibi (2012) in her study analyzes the needs and priorities of local women in the UAE. To collect the needed data she uses a face-to-face questionnaire among 981 females in the Abu Dhabi regions. The author analyzes this information and comes to the conclusion that numerous cases of discrimination are still present in the UAEs society (Al-Jenaibi, 2012).

Women might suffer from the limited access to labor market and social security. However, the important fact is that the bigger part of women who participated in the interview admitted a significant improvement of the situation especially if to compare with the previous decade. These positive movements show that women become more important in the life of the society and people in the UAE respect their main rights. At the same time, the author admits that there is still much to be done to create the environment that will help women to feel less dependent. Similar ideas are suggested by Samulewicz, Vidican, and Aswad (2012) in their study.

They state that the UAE wants to make technological industries central to its economy and tries to create the basis for it (Samulewicz et al., 2012). For this reason, the country introduces a strong knowledge base and wants its citizens to be more active and develop this very sphere. Women might also play an important role and change this field by offering new ideas and their own vision (Samulewicz et al., 2012).

For this reason, today we can see that many females take part in various activities and processes. Thus, the survey which is given to female students shows that there is some improvement in the sphere; however, women still can face various barriers like negative family attitude to places where men and women work together, or absence of role models who can help them by their example. For this reason, the authors note an evident progress related to the sphere and are sure that the further decrease of sexism will be noted in future. Al Subhi and Smith (2017) in their work discuss another aspect of social life and speak about women and their right to take part in elections, consultative assemblies, and other political issues. To understand the main factors that are important for the given topic, the authors analyze religion, traditions, culture of people who live in the region.

They come to the conclusion that women can take part in elections and it becomes possible because of the activity of civil rights movements. However, to see even more females in the political sphere, new changes are needed (Al Subhi & Smith, 2017). Additionally, the authors admit an important role women leaders and media play in this process. Using them as role models, media could make the ideas of tolerance more popular in the state. In such a way, the further decrease of sexism is connected with the medias support and its numerous attempts to destroy barriers that could be found in the UAEs society. The improvement of the situation could also be observed in the sphere of business.

Researching this aspect, Madichie and Gallant (2012) state that the number of female business owners is much bigger in the UAE nowadays as it was even a year ago. The authors interviewed women who are successful in the sphere and collected the information that proved positive changes in the business world of the UAE. Many woman graduates want to run their own company or help the economy of the state to develop (Madichie & Gallant, 2012). The main factors that resulted in the changes mentioned above are the latest changes in government policies and socio-cultural environment which also improves today (Madichie & Gallant, 2012).

Under these conditions, Madichie and Gallant (2012) suppose that in the following years, the tendency will become more powerful and new movements in the society and business world will appear. Tlaiss (2014) is also interested in this issue. In the research work, she discusses the combination of gender, cultural factors, Sharia teachings, and other aspects that might impact women who work in business in the UAE. In general, the paper proves that a significant increase in the number of women involved in the business world could be seen today. Moreover, it suggests factors that support females who try to alter views on their roles in the society.

The interview of 20 women demonstrates that a family support remains one of the most important factors that determine their choice (Tlaiss, 2014). Therefore, the evolution of womens self-confidence and changes in their character help them to struggle for their rights and destroy barriers that might appear in their way. The study proves the appearance of vital moves towards the extension of women rights in the UAE and the Arab Middle East. It also and suggests that the culture, alterations in modern policies, globalization, and media are the main contributors to this change.

When analyzing the problem in the Arab World, Gharaibeh (2016) concludes that a great number of positive changes appear today. The researcher uses the interview as the main tool to collect data about barriers that exist in the society and make the life of the youth more difficult. Political, social, educational, and other spheres were researched. In general, they remained the same (culture, religions, social beliefs).

However, respondents also admitted the fact that now they acquire the opportunity to achieve their goals and become important actors in the development of their states (Gharaibeh, 2016). It happens mainly due to the latest changes in policies and understanding of the fact that old methods and views slow down the development of the UAE and its society. Lazerg (2012) also says that there are many new opportunities for the youth of the Middle East nowadays.

At the moment, this group of the population might enjoy essential changes in attitudes people have on women and their roles in the society. The study of female roles in the region shows that nowadays this group feels more protected and realize the fact that they have rights that should be respected (Lazerg, 2012). The author of the research thinks that it is a great step towards the decrease of sexism and discrimination in the area. With religious and cultural aspects in mind, she states that the alteration in worldviews is essential for the improvement of womens rights. For this reason, today we could see that there are no barriers that slow down the evolution of the Middle East and its society.

The role of the government and traditions is also discussed in many books. For instance, Moghadam, (2013) is sure that there are positive tendencies and wants the government to support these changes. The author also shows that women in marriage still do not have all rights they need as they are not able to act independently as it is not welcomed by the society. For instance, if a woman wants to divorce, she has to demonstrate very strong arguments or a man will be able to ignore it (Moghadam, 2013). The given situation should be changed to guarantee the improvement of women rights in the UAE and decrease of sexism.

Finally, Saloom (2012) in an article admits the fact that the UAEs society is more conservative than the European one. For this reason, there are still numerous differences in the views on women and the role they play. However, there are many signs of improvement which should not be ignored. The majority of women could feel a new approach to them. At the moment, they are welcomed to open their own companies or become scientists. Moreover, the majority of young males also want to change the society and give women more independence. It means that new sings of the improvement of the situation will appear and new changes will happen (Saloom, 2012). However, it is very important for the government and media to support these moves and make them popular among the citizens of the UAE.

Research Questions and Hypothesis (600)

Thus, the information presented in these studies shows that the United Arab Emirates is changing its society now. Because of this fact, the given hypothesis could be suggested:

  • A great improvement of the views on women in the UAE along with the decrease of sexism could be seen nowadays.

For this reason, the main aim of the given paper is to research the issue of women rights in the UAE and prove or refute the hypothesis. The main research question is:

  • Are views on women changing in the UAE?

Moreover, the objective of the study is to analyze womens attitudes to the changes which happen it the UAE and understand their attitude to the issue. Another objective is to find the most important factors that impact the state of women rights and drive change in traditional points of view on the role of women in the Islamic world.

Research Design

Therefore, the character of the hypothesis and main objectives of the study help to choose the method of the research. First of all, it is essential to keep in mind the idea that we must prove the primary idea. That is why we should investigate the real-life experience of women who live in the state and have certain attitudes to the issue. That is why the qualitative research design should be chosen as it helps to understand important facts about the problem and analyze it.

Moreover, as far as we need to understand how exactly improvement of views and attitudes influence women in the UAE, the interview becomes the most powerful tool that can help to find the needed information and analyze it. Finally, it is important to research womens experiences and feelings about their rights. That is why we use this methodology.



The leading purpose of the research is to analyze views on the women rights in the UAE and prove their improvement. For this reason, participants who have the needed knowledge become very important for our project. Moreover, the choice of the interview as the main data collection tool means that there are some peculiarities of the research, eligibility and exclusion criteria. First of all, women who were born in the UAE should be included in the study as only they realize the modern situation in the state and could compare it with the previous one.

Another criteria for the choice of participants was their of social activity. Only women who take part in numerous events or try to build a career can have the needed information about the situation in the UAE and barriers. That is why 20 women aged from 20 to 40 were interviewed. They represent different social classes. Some of them are students, others are workers.

Sample Size

The intended sample size was from 50 to 100 respondents. We decided to use this number because of several important factors. First of all, it helps to collect information that could be trusted. Second, numerous women who take part in the research can show their feelings and ideas which is important to find the most important one. Third, a big number of participants helps to avoid mistakes or wrong information. At the same time, it means better objectivity.

Fourth, as we have chosen the interview as our data collection tool, such phenomenon as saturation of data could be achieved. It means that no additional answers are needed. The purposive sampling method was used because we selected women from 20 to 40 and asked them to take part in the project. Only persons who really wanted to show their answers were interviewed. All women were promised that the information would remain anonymous. Finally, we collected their consent to participate.

However, in practice, 20 women were interviewed. There are several reasons for it. First, we were not able to find 40 women who would be able to provide their answers. We have already said that only people from 20 to 40 should be asked. Moreover, they should belong to a certain social class. Second, we did not have much time to interview more than 50 women as it is a long-term process. Moreover, much time will be spent on the analysis of this data. Finally, it will provide unnecessary details which will make the paper more difficult to understand. For this reason, the actual sample size differs from the intended one significantly.

Research Instruments

As it has already been mentioned, the interview is the main research instrument used to collect the needed data and research the issue. The questions for the interview were created with the main aim to collect reliable information about women rights in the UAE and latest changes in perspectives on females and with their roles in the modern society. The participants were asked to answer questions presented in the blank either orally or in writing.

The was no particular setting as individuals have different jobs and belong to different social groups. For this reason, they were interviewed in an environment convenient for them. Moreover, some respondents sent their answer sheets via the Internet as it was difficult for them to find free time to communicate directly with the investigator.

Ethical Standards

Our project is connected with questions that could be difficult for people. That is why it is important to meet all ethical standards. The given investigation was free-willed. It means that only women who were ready to share their attitudes to the issue and provide needed information were asked during the interview. Second, the complete anonymity of their answers was guaranteed. It is an important aspect of any project that is connected with ethical aspects as people might feel ashamed or scared.

For this reason, womens informed consent was very important for the research. Finally, creating the questions for the interview, the team tried not to offer harsh issues to guarantee that all women will feel comfortable or avoid stress. Under these conditions, the research conducted for the investigation of women rights in the UAE could be considered ethical as it meets all standards.


Total Number of Participants and Period of Data Collection

Therefore, the total number of participants is 20. As we stated above, they are included in the research because of their active social position. Moreover, they take part in the processes that are important for the UAE and its society. The period of data collection was one week. This time frame resulted from the necessity to satisfy all women who were asked during the interview and take into account their timetables.

Moreover, this limit was enough to collect and process all data provided by the respondents. The fact that their answers were not collected at the same time. It helped investigators to analyze results more efficiently and avoid the lack of time. In general, all participants who took part in the research managed to provide their answers on time and helped researches to achieve the high validity of data and findings.


At the same time, there are also some limitations and problems that should be taken into account when analyzing final results and discussing the issue. First, it is the sample size. As stated above, the initial number of participants was about at least 50 women to increase the relevance and validity of data. However, the existing time limit and problems that might appear when researching many answers and trying to ask all women who were asked during the interview. The second limitation comes from the nature of the research. To prove the hypothesis we had to interview those women who have the needed experience and can provide their perspective on the issue.

For this reason, the problem appeared during the selection procedure. However, in general, we could conclude the overall success of the data collection. It also gave the team the needed information which is very accurate and could e trusted.

Results Description

Therefore, during the investigation, we managed to find out the following information. The bigger part of respondents (17) is sure that feminism promotes the improvement of women rights in the state and mothers should be informed about this phenomenon. Moreover, participants admitted the important role mothers play in the formation of the worldview of young girls and their future life. For this reason, they should devote much attention to feminist ideas and tolerance. We are surprised to find that data about to men and women rights is different from the predicted. Only 61% of respondents said that males have more rights than females (see Figure 1). We expected that about 80% would say that men have more power.

Men have more rights than women.
Figure 1. Men have more rights than women.

Additionally, the majority of respondents are sure that women are not oppressed in the UAE; however, there might be some cases of misunderstandings of offenses caused by tradition or religious issues (see Figure 2).

Women oppression.
Figure 2. Women oppression.

The most important fact is that the absolute majority (all 20 respondents) admitted a great improvement of views on women in the UAE (see Figure 3).

Views on women.
Figure 3. Views on women.

A big part of women who took part in the research (10) noted that they had not experienced any problems or discrimination when working in a man collective. Finally, all interviewees are sure that sons should be raised with the ideas of tolerance. It could also help to create a new society and give women new opportunities and rights.


In general, the given research findings prove our hypothesis about the improvement of the views on women in the UAE in last several years. Additionally, the interview shows that women have positive attitudes to processes which happen in the modern society and support all changes in the UAE and relations between men and women. Among most important factors that promote change, they point out family and mothers influence, the spread of feminism, and alterations in peoples mentalities. The primary research question was to

determine whether views on women change in the UAE. The interview proves that there is no oppression and there are movements towards the improvement of the situation. The secondary aim was to state whether the tendency will be preserved or not. The bigger part of women who were asked in the interview is sure that the views will continue to improve. For this reason, the positive answer to this question could be given.

Similarities with Previous Research

The results of the research look similar to other findings presented in the literature review section. For instance, people report the lack of discomfort when working with men in their collectives. On the contrary, they say that women might play leading roles in business. Madichie and Gallant (2012) offer the same ideas and point out the fact that the sphere of business becomes more and more dependent on female leaders and workers.

Moreover, changes towards the appearance of new knowledge among the youth and males admitted by respondents are also noted by Saloom (2012) who is sure that the need for the reorganization is obvious for all young men. At the same time, there are several differences as the majority of authors admitted cases of discrimination that are still observed in the UAE. Our respondents were sure that there was no oppression.

Internal Validity

Therefore, there are several threats to the internal validity of the research. First, it is selection as women might have characteristics different from those the bigger part of the population has. Second, it is morality as their answers might result from the need to show positive results no matter what the real situation is. Third, the procedure of testing might scare women, and they will provide wrong data.

External Validity

As for the external validity, it comes from the random sampling and choice of respondents. Only women who possess the needed knowledge and have the needed qualities were included in the research. For this reason, the external validity could be considered appropriate.


Altogether, the given study shows the improvement of the views on women and decrease of sexism in the UAE. Using the interview, we managed to prove the hypothesis and provide reliable information that points out great changes in the modern UAEs society and numerous movements toward the better situation. Moreover, women are sure that there is no oppression in the UAE and cases of discrimination could be explained by the impact of cultural or religious factors that will be destroyed in next several years. The paper could be used in the further research of the factors that support the gradual improvement of womens position and a decrease of sexism in the state.


Al-Jenaibi, B. (2012). The needs and priorities of women in the UAE: Identifying struggles and enhancing satisfaction of employment, education, health care, and rights. Contemporary Review of the Middle East, 2(3), 238-268. Web.

Al Subhi, A., & Smith, A. (2017). Electing women to new Arab assemblies: The roles of gender ideology, Islam, and tribalism in Oman. International Political Science Review. Web.

Gharaibeh, F. (2016). Understanding the needs and rights of Arab Muslim youth: The case of Jordan. International Social Work, 60(5), 1169-1188. Web.

International Federation for Human Rights. (2010). . Web.

Lazerg, M. (2012). Up for grabs: Writing women in the Middle East. Contemporary Sociology, 41(4) 444-447. Web.

Madichie, N., & Gallant, M. (2012). Broken Silence: A commentary on women’s entrepreneurship in the United Arab Emirates. The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 13(2), 81-92. Web.

Moghadam, V. (2013). Modernizing women: Gender and social change in the Middle East. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Saloom, A. (2012). . The National. Web.

Samulewicz, D., Vidican, G., & Aswad, N. (2012). Barriers to pursuing careers in science, technology, and engineering for women in the United Arab Emirates. Gender, Technology and Development, 16(2), 125-152. Web.

Tlaiss, H. (2014). Women’s entrepreneurship, barriers and culture: Insights from the United Arab Emirates. The Journal of Entrepreneurship, 23(2), 289-320. Web.

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