UAE Culture: The Role of Women

UAE Culture: The Role of Women Last updated on Monday 26th April 2010

Quotes from the President of the UAE:

"Nothing could delight me more than to see Woman taking up her distinctive position in society... Nothing should hinder her progress... Like men, women deserve the right to occupy high positions according to their capabilities and qualifications."

"We expect our young women to support and to proceed in accordance with all that is undertaken by their brothers, the young men of the United Arab Emirates, so that there may be fruitful cooperation between them in all spheres."

And his wife, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, says:

"We have not yet reached the target for which we strive, but we are sure that we are making substantial progress along the right path."

The women of what has become the UAE never simply stayed at home. In the pre-oil society, women in the mountains and oases played active and vital roles in agriculture. In the coastal areas where fishing and pearling were the main occupations, men were often away from home for extended periods. Women were thus left to bring up children, care for the old and infirm, and look after farms and livestock. These were considerable responsibilities and they were usually discharged with competence and awareness.

Women also played major roles in tribal affairs though admittedly often behind the scenes. The mother of the President, Sheikha Salamah for example, was to a large extent responsible for the way in which her sons worked together to bring the Emirate of Abu Dhabi through the trying times of the world economic depression and the Second World War into the beginnings of the oil era.

Tradition did mean, however, that as the country developed and its men moved to seize opportunities for education and advancement, there was a danger that women might be left behind. Fortunately, that has not occurred nor is it now likely to.

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