Who is the real housewife of Dubai? Is she an Emirati woman raising a family while also trying to make her mark in the world? Or is she an expat who’s made the country her home and adapted to its ways? In a melting pot of cultures, how do you draw a template for who the real housewife is?
A common stereotype of Dubai in the Western world is that almost anyone who lives here leads a life of decadence. This is in sharp contrast with our social realities where women of all cultures and communities are now breaking the glass ceiling in various sectors. No wonder then as soon as the trailer of The Real Housewives of Dubai released, it left social media perplexed. To set the context, the reality show is a spinoff of The Real Housewives series that enjoys immense popularity. As Time magazine describes the franchise, “In the world of the Real Housewives, drama is guaranteed, social currency is key and the shade is definitely real.” But just how much is this ‘reality’ in conjunction with the kind of lives housewives lead here?
Almost as soon as the trailer was released, social media influencer Majid Alamry shot a video (that has now gone viral) explaining why the portrayal — at least what we see of it in the teaser — might not be accurate. “I am half-Scottish,” he says. “So I do understand different cultures. And I am also aware of the power of social media and how it can work like a chain. But I feel if you are producing something on a city and using its name, you might as well look at it from different angles. Look at the culture, look at both locals and expats, people who are working hard to build that city.”
There is a certain image of Dubai that suggests it is the land of ultimate luxury, and while that may be true, says Alamry, this is not the city’s sole reality. “So, when you project that this is what our women do, that’s where I have a problem.”
Alamry’s video created an important talking point on social media, and he says nearly 90 per cent of the responses he received were positive. But what really took him by surprise was how his message resonated among the non-Emiratis.
It only helps that he is careful in his criticism when he says he has nothing against the contestants of the show and does not mean them harm. “My simple message was that this does not represent the real housewives of Dubai. But they spoke about all women. I totally believe that a majority of women in Dubai are hard-working and have achieved a lot. They are doing this while raising children. Of course, we have fun and enjoy ourselves, which is a beautiful thing, but that aspect of our lives cannot overlap with our actual identity.”
But does a man speaking for how women are or ought to be undermine the very cause he has taken up in his video? Alamry says that the feminism he subscribes to encourages men to stand up for women and vice versa. “But if you are talking about those kind of feminists who attack men, then I do not subscribe to it.”
As an influencer, he is aware of the weight of his words. “I wish on social media men spoke good about women and vice versa, because then it gives me hope. We are all human beings and are in this together. Women are our mothers, daughters and sisters; their success in life is our success.”
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