Women in the UAE
The United Arab Emirates is a country full of vast contrast, to say the least. In a country where mosques and pubs can exist beside one another, expats are encouraged to research this exotic country before embarking on international relocation. Research is particularly important when it comes to the rights of women in the UAE.
Being a Muslim country, Islamic Law is enforced throughout the United Arab Emirates. In expat havens such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, rules are significantly eased where more and more western visitors and residents can be found every year. However, in parts of these cities and outside them, it’s vital to know where you stand in key areas.
Women’s Rights in the UAE
When it comes to constitutional rights in the UAE, women are very much equal to men. Voting, driving, owning property, working and getting an education are all permitted, though some of these might require approval from a guardian to do so. The extremely traditional culture in place contrasts with the luxury seen in the expat lifestyles. This often means that the country has agreed to protect women and women’s rights in line with progressive international treaties while failing to implement active structures to bring about change. In this way, it’s important to know particularities as a woman living in the UAE.
When it comes to respect, women are often granted the utmost respect in public, meaning many expat women often report feeling safer in the UAE than in their home countries. Cat-calling and other loud, public displays are not commonplace, despite the time of day and whether women are walking alone or with company.
Can Women Work in the UAE?
Within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, the UAE are the highest-ranking country when it comes to women’s participation in the economy. Women have every right to work within the United Arab Emirates – in fact, they make up around 40% of the general workforce in the country (2021 Women, Peace and Security Index UAE). They are free to choose the jobs in which they work and, legally, receive equal pay for equal work. However, consent from a guardian, usually a father, is sometimes required before a position is accepted, such as for work in the government.
During the past few years, there has been a significant increase in encouraging women in business within the UAE. Groups of female-led entrepreneurs continue to drive more vital discussions about the importance of a woman’s place in business, particularly when it comes to starting new businesses. Only around 10% of the private sector in the UAE is made up of female business owners, however, it is within their rights to freely do so.
Can Women Own Property in the UAE?
Women in the UAE are also legally permitted to purchase property or acquire a mortgage, or indeed inherit property. Foreigners including expats are permitted to own land within Dubai, so long as the area is a freehold area, with the lease agreement being valid for 99 years. If moving to the UAE permanently, you should ensure that a will is in place to ensure fair allocation of your assets – without one, inheritance can often be paid in accordance with gender, with males benefiting over females.
Can Women Study in the UAE?
Educational rights are equal for both men and women living in the UAE. Access to all levels of education, from primary to university level, is encouraged for women, and literacy rates for both genders are high (around 97%) across the country. 70% of all university graduates in the UAE are women.