“You’re going to Dubai? Will you have to wear a burqa?” I was asked this question all too frequently before coming to the UAE this summer.
As a student of Arabic in the UK, I am used to curiosity. But often, the reaction to my degree spills over from curiosity into incomprehension, exposing common generalizations about the “Middle East” and “Arab women.”
These latest questions about how I would have to dress in Dubai reminded me of a similar conversation last year with one of my fellow students at university.
Smugly, as if he had come up with a question that would really stump me, he asked: “How can you be a feminist and study Arabic at the same time?”
Achieving gender equality
The outfits and status of women in the region are as nuanced and varied as the region itself. Such blanket assumptions about oppressed Middle Eastern women are problematicFaith Barker