To begin, the United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates that lie along the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The seven emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Qaiwain, with Abu Dhabi being the largest, occupying more than three fourths of the total land area. In the 18th century, Portugal and the Netherlands held territory where the modern day UAE stands, until it was taken over in the 19th century by British rule. The states did not gain autonomy until after World War II, when Bahrain and Qatar declared statehood. The rest were formally instated in 1971, with Abu Dhabi as the capital.
Since it’s founding in 1971, the United Arab Emirates has made significant strides in empowering women and improving their quality of life. There has been a push for equal education, and that is obvious with the literacy rate; in 1971, the literacy rate was 89.8%, in stark contrast with the 2015 rate of 7.3%. The struggle that the UAE faces now, is not only integrating their own women into the workforce, but also integrating expatriate women into society and the economy of the country.
After reading more about the UAE, I can’t help but wonder if their large strides in gender equality stem from the fact that they are a very young nation; yes, it is an emirate composed of older nations and traditions, however the UAE itself was not formed until the 1970s. It will be interesting to compare women’s rights in this country with a more “traditional” country, such as Iraq, and then to even take it a step further and compare with a western nation.