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14 January, 2006

Sexist UAE labour laws

In the year 2006, why are UAE labour laws still so incredibly sexist?

Sheri is a woman in her mid-twenties who works for one of Dubai's leading airlines, full time, as flight crew. She earns a very decent wage. A year after taking up the job, Sheri married her fiance Sam, who had been working overseas. When Sam came to live with Sheri in the UAE - as she was the higher income earner - the couple discovered that Sheri could not sponsor Sam, because she was female. If Sheri had a penis and Sam a vagina, there would have been no problem.

There are a few measly exceptions to the wife-sponsorship rule, such as female nurses and doctors who can sponsor husbands and children. But the general discrimination stems from a worryingly ingrained sexist culture that still blights the lives of many UAE national women today. Talk to any university staff, and they will tell you tales of bright, talented young emirati women who were unable to use their skills and education on graducation because "their brother wouldn't let them work".

Take this article on Internet addiction where we hear from the priggish Mohamed Salem, who stopped his family using the web after a (male) friend of his misused it:

"From that day, I disconnected the Internet and don’t allow my sisters to use it although they can benefit from the information,” said Salem

What a disgusting, sexist, controlling man. Or take this article on bellydancing where we hear this from a labour official:

The official said the labour law bans employing women at night except in healthcare sector and certain other jobs. "The labour law also bans employing women in dangerous jobs which affect their health and morals," he said.

If women want your protection, they'll ask for it. Don't force them to be treated like wilting Victorian maidens with these outdated, sexist laws.

UAE officials: if you really want the world to take you seriously as an international calibre business hub, then you need to eliminate this kind of gender discrimination. Real men aren't scared by empowered women. It's only pathetic little boys with inferiority complexes that feel the need to control and limit women's freedom.

Labels:

67 Comments:

Blogger CG said...

Take this article on Internet addiction where we here (hear?) from the priggish Mohamed Salem, who stopped his family using the web after a (male) friend of his misused it:

14 January, 2006 13:50  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Oops - fixed - thanks. I wrote that at a very angry pace ;)

14 January, 2006 13:56  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Ooh err missus. Think yer on a loser here SD. I was hassled for months by my wife's employers. Even though she is on my sponsorship, they insisted that I provide an NOC (No Objection Certificate), just in case they got inspected by MinLab. Sheesh.

It's all ridiculous to us westerners, but the situation is obviously very different from a muslim standpoint.

14 January, 2006 13:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sheri and sam need to look into this a bit more. I know of a couple were she is a teacher and he no job at all. They are both western. And we all know teachers here arent payed that well!!! Although she does work for a hig profile school.

14 January, 2006 13:59  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Anon - they have looked into it. Teachers are on the exempt list, like nurses.

Keefie - I forgot to include that angle, that NOC thing is also sickening. Apparently (technically) if a working woman here gets married, she has to obtain a NOC from her husband to continue her job. FFS. Having a vagina should not make you the chattel of some man.

14 January, 2006 14:03  
Blogger samuraisam said...

"if Sam had a vagina"

I am disturbed.

14 January, 2006 14:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can understand their views of the internet and their wishes that he doesn't want his sisters to be either abused or mistreated on the net. It can be very anonymous, (like me now, and you SD) and therfore very dangerous and misleading. I read an article not long ago about kids giving out info and was surprised about the level of kids who had sent personal details and had agreed to meet with people on the net. But banning the internet in the house isn't the answer. You can accsess the net anywere now, including the whole of the City Centre WIFI. But then you also must look at Microsoft were they have stopped all chat rooms on their service in the UK cos of child abuse. Would it not be better if Microsoft could provide such a chat service and monitor it for safety Instead of sending the kids else were? And same with this guy, get some sort of parent protection to prevent his sisters and male relatives accessing unregulated or mallicious sites. Any way thats my 50 fils worth.

14 January, 2006 14:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can she get him cheep flights on the one of dubais leading airlines? Could be visa runs every few months?

14 January, 2006 14:14  
Blogger samuraisam said...

That article about the internet is alarming, more alarming is the fact that Khaleej Times hasn't covered the amount of time people waste reading it's "publication".

As for mr anonymous's comment of monitoring chat rooms, that is impossible, there must be at least 20 million if not more people constantly sending messages online, who would pay for the monitoring of such a service?

I can only hope that the labour laws are "updated" soon, lest Dubai wants to look like it's neighbour 500 miles to the west.

14 January, 2006 14:14  
Blogger samuraisam said...

also anonymous @ 14:12, i think that educating people about how information provided on the internet can be misused, i'm pretty sure it's in the back of everyone's mind, but few realise the consequences of losing their anonymity, especially if they are under 18 and susceptible to paedophiles.
If they're over 18 you can't really do anything, that guy doesn't say the age of his sisters, but one only has to guess.... If they're over 18 and they send pictures to people it is their own responsibility.
I'd say the more you try and fight the influence of the internet by eg. banning it, the more problems it will cause when children move away from home and are literally clueless, and fall for fraud schemes etc, by teaching people early on, you hopefully safeguard them in the future.

14 January, 2006 14:19  
Blogger samuraisam said...

also as a final point, isn't it pathetic that people are able to blame the internet for marital problems?

PS: SD sorry about barrage of comments, if you can merge them all that'd be cool (don't actually know if you can edit comments)

14 January, 2006 14:21  
Blogger moryarti said...

SD,

Your friends can petition (appeal) it.

I am sure Sheri has some brownie points that she can leverage such as:
- working for a "respected" UAE based organization (they can give her a salary certificate, recommendation letter ..etc)
- Been here working in the UAE for a long time
- She is a goody-goody expat with a good (or no) record
- She is educated
- She is financially capable (her bank can support that with a credit report)

She can ask to meet Saeed Bin Bleelah, DG of DNRD, who can take her case into consideration and may give her an exemption from that law...

14 January, 2006 14:44  
Anonymous mercy said...

With freedom of information on the net, comes access to a multitude of things, some good, some bad. This is true wherever you are in the world. But blocking internet access will not solve the problem: education is needed instead.

14 January, 2006 14:48  
Anonymous Ken said...

Right on SD!! This must have been one of the best comments I have read so far. One question though - if it was possible for the wife to sponsor her husband who would sponsor husband's wife number 2 and 3...?

14 January, 2006 14:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when I said about monitoring chat rooms I meant Microsoft providing a chat room and keeping checks on it instead of removing it. Go to MSN Uk and there is no chat forum. That doesn't mean that no one in the UK chats but they have to go else where. MSN removed it from the UK due to the threat of child abuse. Also I agree that banning net use isn't the answer but tight contol is needed by the head of the family. IE fathers or out here older brothers. I do belive it can cause rifts in relationships but I don't think that it was the ultimate cause if it wasn't the net it would of been something else to cause a rift.

14 January, 2006 15:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing this up SD. The usual defence would be that this is the religion and culture of the land and bla blah.

No.

These people use religion and culture to justify their own insecurities and opinions.

That being said I think UAE's young ladies are quite intelligent, ambitious and may carry the beacon of the future of the country.

A male.

14 January, 2006 16:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

assuming they are ever given the opportunity...which I doubt

14 January, 2006 17:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hrmm.. Not sure why I like angry posts, but I do. Yes, that is quite upsetting. In fact, the entire concept of someone sponsoring another is ridiculous to begin with.

I didn't even know that there were such restrictions (I thought it was purely based on income/education/etc.). Even those conditions are completely out of this world.

Keefieboy, when I had to do the same for my wife when she was transferring her American driver's license.. and for her employment, etc. I jokingly tell her that "This is a man's world.. I'm in control!".. then we go home and the real boss certainly is no longer me ;)

14 January, 2006 17:32  
Blogger archer14 said...

Isn't it funny...Other than the US and Europe, the sexist culture exists everywhere. And when the US hasn't even had a female president, I even doubt that.
I think the UAE comes second amongst GCC countries from the standpoint of granting equal rights for women.
There's far more pressing issues such as polygamy, literacy and what not.
Atleast the UAE is rid of female infanticide and dowry deaths...And what is to be said when a recent statistic proved that educated Indian urban women abort female foetuses more than rural women (for whom everyday is a fight for survival?)
When you say It's only pathetic little boys with inferiority complexes that feel the need to control and limit women's freedom.

It's only because women let them to. As simple as that.

14 January, 2006 18:59  
Blogger archer14 said...

The last part was...
When you say - It's only pathetic little boys with inferiority complexes that feel the need to control and limit women's freedom.

--It's only because women let them to. As simple as that.

14 January, 2006 19:01  
Blogger secretdubai said...

It's only because women let them to.

Do you really think that?

Or that what you like to think, because the truth is rather more unpalatable?

14 January, 2006 19:19  
Blogger samuraisam said...

It's only because women let them to. As simple as that.

not really archer14, the fact is that for several generations boys/men have been educated in favour of girls/women, which leads to an influx of under educated women competing in the same societies as educated men, which leads to men getting jobs and women not.

14 January, 2006 19:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam can always get a job :-) Stress is gone then...>>> Don't fight the system too hard people, you'll all bust a valve :-) All in good time...>>>

14 January, 2006 20:19  
Blogger archer14 said...

Well Samuraisam and SD, what is your conclusion when a woman aborts her baby for her husband? Isn't it an insult when educated women are the worst offenders? Does not literacy play any role in this?
When they have all followed suit, and have created a 'pandemic' of sorts? (Already prevalent in Korea and catching up in China)
Where is the voice of humanity, even if it has to be born on the internet?

DISCLAIMER : I'm NOT an MCP. Just stating the facts.

14 January, 2006 20:28  
Blogger archer14 said...

And Samuraisam, regarding your analogy - ever thought about the field of engineering? Not many women even enrol in a field such as Mechanical/Automotive. Now why is that?
Sorry for double posting, please merge if possible.

14 January, 2006 20:36  
Blogger samuraisam said...

archer14 i'm currently studying for sound engineering;
though i'm pretty sure it's different from other types of engineering, i'd say about 1/3rd of the class is female.

14 January, 2006 20:38  
Blogger qadi said...

When I was in ROTC, this Marine woman became infatuated with me. Unfortunately, she was stronger than most of the men(we're talking benching 225lb's for reps) in the battalion, myself included.

I was scared of her!

14 January, 2006 21:12  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Well Samuraisam and SD, what is your conclusion when a woman aborts her baby for her husband? Isn't it an insult when educated women are the worst offenders? Does not literacy play any role in this?
When they have all followed suit, and have created a 'pandemic' of sorts? (Already prevalent in Korea and catching up in China)
Where is the voice of humanity, even if it has to be born on the internet?


What on EARTH are you talking about?

What relevance does this have to equal labour rights for men and women in the UAE?

14 January, 2006 21:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Secret Dubai, when ever you want to be interviewed for GN (anonymously of course), let me know - dhadid@gulfnews.com

Cheers, Diaa

14 January, 2006 21:26  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

Those sorts of Emirati men are participating in their own gelding. The Emirati women I work with are driven, but one thing that really drives the driven - gaining an escape from shackles on the home front. It's not every Emirati woman that reacts that way, but it is the way those I encounter do. In education Emirati women are leaving their brothers in dust.

What will be the result? I don't know. But somethings gotta give. Maybe Emirati women will become like this "scary woman."

I remind myself that less than a century, in the U.S. county I currently call home, female teachers were fired when they married. Relative to the span of human history the U.A.E. and the Western world are very close indeed.

14 January, 2006 21:55  
Anonymous syais said...

Although sexism is most apparent in this part of the world, I think most women would say that it still exists to some degree the world over.
That said, there is a disturbing situation here where some expect their wives or any potential wife to be covered up and at home; and yet they will happily spend time with other women (who are not covered). This is mindset that seems to be acceptable to many and highlights the level of sexism in this country.

14 January, 2006 22:34  
Blogger UaE MaX said...

You have to bare in mind its an Islamic country and laws are mainly Islamics

And the world is taking us seriously , I don’t think we need to change our laws for sam and sheri to be happy in order for the world to take us seriously

Thanks

14 January, 2006 22:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What on EARTH are you talking about?

What relevance does this have to equal labour rights for men and women in the UAE? "

Dont bother SD, thats Rule No.1 of debating:

When you feel your point is weak, just bring in every irrelevant topic from apartheid in South Africa to Cannibalism in Borneo.

Apparently, all crimes are forgiven provided one can point to a worse crime, "you have no right to tell me this when someone got murdered in your country this moment!"

14 January, 2006 23:26  
Blogger samuraisam said...

uae max correct me if i'm wrong but doesn't the quran say that men and women are equal?

14 January, 2006 23:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ExampleYou have to bare in mind its an Islamic country and laws are mainly Islamics

Islam does not say that a female teacher cannot live with her husband, so which "Islamic laws" are you talking about?

14 January, 2006 23:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uae max correct me if i'm wrong but doesn't the quran say that men and women are equal?

Throughout the ages labeling something as Islam (or Christianity) has been used conveniently for all sorts of crazy acts.
Some people who kill for honor in Pakistan and Jordan cite Islam, even though Islam explicitly prohibits murder.

In Saudi Arabia, scholars say Islam doesnt allow women to drive, or to take part in athletics (in girls' schools), or to get medical treatment unless her "guardian" approves.

However, the UAE is more enlightened and does not use Islam as an exuse for cultural practices.

14 January, 2006 23:36  
Anonymous mohamed Elzubeir said...

Okay, there is a lot of ignorance floating around here. First of all, Islamic 'laws' have absolutely nothing to do with 'sponsorship'.. last I checked. So, please don't give me this "This is an Islamic country" crap.. it has nothing to do with it.

Secondly, Islam does NOT make men and women equal. It clearly and without any doubt favors men over women. This is not to start a religion war, but a fact is a fact and there is no point beating around the bush here.

Finally, give it a rest. Sexist labor/immigration laws need to be changed and _will_ be changed. It will take time, just like it took the West plenty of time.

SD (and other Westerners comparing the current Western culture to that of the UAE and other Arab countries), remember that the Islamic world (not from a religious but cultural perspective) is currently going through its own dark ages. Don't expect it to turn liberal overnight.

15 January, 2006 00:53  
Blogger qadi said...

Dark ages ended only when the influence of religion attenuated.

15 January, 2006 01:07  
Anonymous uaemax said...

samuraisam

of course they should be paid equally
but islam obliges men to pay for their wives and children but not vice versa, so thats why in all government jobs they pay married men more than singles, but it doesnt happen for girls when they get married

15 January, 2006 03:02  
Anonymous uaemax said...

mohamad alzubair,

if u dont agree or ignorant about religion, dont just call it crap !
read and learn is my advice to u
is my advice to u

15 January, 2006 03:04  
Anonymous mohamed Elzubeir said...

I did not call religion crap, I called the argument of using religion as an excuse for such regulations is a crappy argument. I am fairly certain that my basic language skills did not fail me there.

15 January, 2006 07:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if u know the origin of such a regulation by the government u might have done better than crap

15 January, 2006 07:04  
Blogger sheikha cheryl said...

I seem to be missing so much while away. Don't get me started on the sexism, especially at one of Dubai's leading airlines. It could work if the "airline" pushed it. Instead they will probably lose ANOTHER good employee.

15 January, 2006 08:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thought I'd share this with you guys. http://www.deviantart.com/view/26830741/

15 January, 2006 08:32  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

And the world is taking us seriously...

They're not. The rest of the world is taking you seriously only in the area of hydrocarbon extraction and trading. In any other area, the rest of the world shakes their head and roll their eyes when they read that women are not treated as equal to men in the eyes of the law. That's if they can be bothered reading about it in the first place, that is.

These kind of laws are setting the country back by decades, and if they were abolished completely it would not go unrecognised by the rest of the world as a bold and essential step to becoming a modern nation.

15 January, 2006 11:00  
Blogger _sublime_ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

15 January, 2006 11:07  
Anonymous mohamed elzubeir said...

Anon @ 15 January, 2006 07:04

Oh enlighten us wise one.. it's a crappy argument. The origins are purely cultural and have nothing to do with religion.

At least I have the balls to put my name next to my opinions, Mr. Anonymous.

15 January, 2006 11:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emir of Kuwait passes away, awaiting a post on that story... Anyone know how many days holiday?

15 January, 2006 11:27  
Blogger samuraisam said...

_sublime_ ask for a nice friendship and you're gold.
watch out for fathers/uncles/brothers who will readily castrate you.
not so sure about govt's view.

15 January, 2006 11:36  
Blogger Tim Newman said...

watch out for fathers/uncles/brothers who will readily castrate you.

Presumably because they want her for themselves. Keep it in the family kind of thing, a la Appalachia. It's all relative in Dubai.

15 January, 2006 11:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women in the West were not given our rights overnight or by some 'enlightenment'. It took years and lots of litigation. In other words, it took force. It won't happen here until the women come together and demand it. From what I have seen, there is no such movement afoot. They must be content with the way things are, no?

15 January, 2006 14:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

on a completely different topic..

the Emir of Kuwait Shaikh Jaber has died early sunday morning !

15 January, 2006 14:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, off topic, but I think this is breaking news..a rumor that the RAK/UAQ ruler ALSO has apparently expired..

If anyone has more info, put in more leads in here!

15 January, 2006 15:54  
Blogger Balushi said...

and by the way, Can anyone name a Female minister from switzerland? (which is supposedly the best of best in women empower thingy)


In UAE we have sheikha Lubna, in Bahrain we have Fatima Al Balushi, etc etc.

15 January, 2006 17:44  
Blogger Balushi said...

Why was my first Post deleted??

15 January, 2006 18:21  
Anonymous uaemax said...

well, why cant UK have a female bishop! why cant we see a female pop ?! equal rights only work when it comes to us !

mohamad zubait i assumed u would be smart enough to know it was me who posted that ! its religion and its crappy yeah because u know nothing and u pretend to know everything

15 January, 2006 20:22  
Anonymous mohamed Elzubeir said...

uaemax, if I've ever seen ignorance... instead of making random idiotic accusations, point out what was actually incorrect about what I have said and correct it.

15 January, 2006 22:17  
Blogger Balushi said...

"Again, off topic, but I think this is breaking news..a rumor that the RAK/UAQ ruler ALSO has apparently expired..

If anyone has more info, put in more leads in here!

15 January, 2006 15:54 "


Expired?

Duhhhh Humans are not food or drink to expire!!

15 January, 2006 22:33  
Anonymous uaemax said...

mohamad alzubairi, u clearly said these regulations r cultural and not based on religion. and thats not true

15 January, 2006 22:58  
Anonymous mohamed Elzubeir said...

minimax, care to elaborate?

16 January, 2006 00:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The UAE is just below Iraq in terms of freedom for women- see Freedom House on the web

16 January, 2006 21:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what do you think would happen if if Sam and Sheri both had a vagina !! do you reakon they would get sponsorship ?

17 January, 2006 00:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you dont like living in Dubai then piss off

21 January, 2006 13:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

booooooring

18 September, 2006 19:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are whining and complaining and it is not your right to do so. Since you have accepted to work in Dubai, you have accepted to abide by its customs, rules and regulations.

Its not your country. If you are not happy following these rules, go back to your own country.

:-) Simple isn't it?

19 October, 2006 13:49  
Blogger secretdubai said...

You are whining and complaining and it is not your right to do so.

It's totally my right. I am a free human being, with the right to independent thought and the expression of that thought. Unlike you, I come from a democratic background, where I believe negative issues should be aired so they can be addressed.

19 October, 2006 14:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When people come here they know the rules. They come here from choice. Not your country, not your culture. Why waste your time and life griping about something which you can't change and actually have no right to change? Try getting a life.

12 January, 2007 18:55  

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