Jane Bristol-Rhys's volume is less a historical account of gender struggle and more a collection of conversations with successive generations of Emirati women. In preparing this work, the author has used both her decades of regional experience and her eight-and-a-half-year stint as a lecturer at Abu Dhabi's Zayed University to admirable effect.
Her students will, of course, be familiar with many of the topics presented here from previous classroom discussions, but Bristol-Rhys also marshals research material, observations and anecdotal evidence to state her case.
She deals extensively with stereotyping by foreign eyes: "We were criticised for being poor illiterate Bedouin," says one of her interview subjects, "and now we are criticised for being rich. Nothing we do will ever be 'right' and 'accepted' because the West will always claim we are copying them".
Indeed, the opinions of her circle of Emirati women consistently shines. This is hardly surprising. The author candidly admits that her students "knew what she was working on" when she was researching the book. They even volunteered to read her proofs and insisted on giving her a grade.