Dubai's not about the optics of gender, it is about people

Dubai is changing, growing, assimilating and staying involved in the lives of people.

By Sami Ha Zen

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Published: Tue 29 Jan 2019, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 29 Jan 2019, 9:35 PM

Dubai has had enough. It says a clear 'no' to words and actions by some sections of the world media that have misconstrued its efforts towards gender equality. This city has had enough and will not take it lying down.
Ever since the Gender Balance Council winners were announced, some sections of the global media went into overdrive, and mocked the winners who are mostly men. The criticism is not in good taste. It is ridiculous that these media are not aware that only the best performers receive these awards. Why should gender play a role in it?
Where does this come from? Prejudice - at the core and which is rotten. These outdated views about a modern and progressive city show the Western media in poor light. The attacks on Dubai show the weakness of some media houses who dislike this city and its tryst with the new world order.
Dubai is changing, growing, assimilating and staying involved in the lives of people. Ignorant articles put out by these media are petty, envious in tone and defames a city that is called the 'city of gold'.
Let me get to the issue at hand here. The gender balance awards were received by people who strived for a cause. A man can be a better feminist if given a chance.
To think that gender balance is about women's empowerment shows a lack of understanding while making it simplistic. In its broader sense, gender balance is about including men and women for a greater vision of the future.
As a young city, Dubai has come a long way from where it was 50 years ago. The city has turned its futuristic vision into reality in a short span of time. Yet, instead of appreciation, periodically, the world media targets Dubai with some confused portrayals. It fits a pattern and it's confounding to people who live in the city and call it home. For the millions of citizens and expats who share the values that it is known for - openness, transparency and dynamism - unmatched by any other city in the region.
For Dubai, this is a new era, where the spirit of adventure and entrepreneurship keeps it ahead of the pack. The city is not just about wealthy Arabs on camels and gold, as some pseudo intellectuals in the West portray it out to be. Enough of the stereotyping. The city is about scientists and researchers and about their quest get to Mars. An out of the world city, shall we say. This is a city of prosperity and harmony for millions of migrants who have come from afar and are living their dreams and sustaining their families back home.
Dubai has always been trying to create a set of standards for a more pluralistic, liberal and progressive society. The idea of balance in living together needs assurance. It is not about who wins awards, but the greater vision of equality is what matters. This city is proud of its women. In a sense, Dubai is truly a feminine city. Countries can look to the people of this city for inspiration.
What people and media around the world need to understand is that unlike many big cities that have a long-standing history, Dubai is a city still in the making, and she is young.
At a time when other traditional high-profile cities lack the vision on how to move forward, Dubai's leadership is keen to teach future leaders how to imagine a positive future. Here, in this city, are people who are willing to celebrate after exporting their last barrel of oil.
Here, in this city, is a leader who wants the best of everything and continues to chart new paths for good governance. There is constant learning and innovation which draws the best from the world. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is laying the foundation for men and women to be given equal opportunities.
He is the one who congratulated the winners. From a patriarchal society, early Dubai was far different from the so-called norms of the Western world. It has now advanced to the next level of urban civilisation.Dubai has won the hearts of its people and respect among million others who live here and represent the whole world.
Perhaps the world media were awestruck by Dubai's quick rise. Who knows, they could have been baffled. This is a city built on hopes and dreams. It is unique and connects the world like no other metropolis and displays its ambition unabashedly.
This is a city that invests equally in women and men, and is unafraid to meet challenges head on. This is a city that breathes people and believes in their promise and goodness. This is Dubai.
-sameeha@khaleejtimes.com



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