'Real Housewives of Dubai' trailer sparks backlash

Emirati commentator Majid Alamry says the series does not represent the real women of Dubai

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Residents and citizens of the UAE have denounced the new Bravo series The Real Housewives of Dubai, saying it is not representative of people living in the emirate.

After a new trailer for the show, which is out on June 1, was released on Wednesday, Emirati commentator Majid Alamry took to Instagram to share his thoughts, saying the series "does not represent the real housewives of Dubai".

He describes the trailer as featuring "women that are wearing bikinis on beaches, using the nastiest language you can ever think of and they're presenting themselves as gold diggers".

"Now, my wife is a housewife, she does not dress like that in public, she does not speak in that manner and she has achieved a lot in her life.

"The housewives of my country are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters. They are the backbone in helping giving our children the proper upbringing.

"Yes, we are a tolerant country, but that does not mean that others can walk all over our morals and values."

'Thank you for speaking up'

Many were quick to applaud Alamry for his comments, which have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on various platforms.

Local blogger Fatima said she was "proud" of Alamry. "These type of things does not and will not represent us," she wrote in reply to the video. "I am proud of each and every women in UAE who work so hard for herself and her family and her country."

In another comment shared by Alamry in his Stories, a viewer from America said: "The representation of the Housewives of Dubai caught me off guard. As I know this not to be true. Beautiful, hardworking ladies!"

Liliane, who posts under the Instagram account @funkyozzi, said: "The beauty of Dubai is that it has been open for the rest of us to come and make it our home but we should always be understanding and respectful of the culture and values of this amazing city."

"Thank you for speaking up," said mindfulness coach Kirsty Heaton, a resident of Dubai for 39 years.

Another anonymous commenter wanted to emphasise their own experience of growing up in the city. "I've been brought up in the Emirates for the past 15 years, been a part of its growth. I've seen my mom and many other housewives all along. I've seen women excel in various fields, thanks to all the support offered by this country and its people. Dubai is more of our home than our actual home town.

"This representation was indeed hurtful on so many levels. Once again, thanks for pointing it out. It all starts from one person."

A 'single dimension' view

Alamry, who works in aviation but has been an active member of the social media community for three years, says he wants to spread a "positive message" about Arabs, Islam and the Middle East to the world, as many still think "we're living in tents and riding camels".

"My mother’s Scottish, so I can understand it from both sides," he tells The National. "I believe if you’re going to go to a country, you have to look at it from every angle, then you can start making a documentary about it, just to be fair."

It's a sentiment echoed by Mazen Hayek, a regional media executive and former MBC Group spokesman, who says western media needs to avoid portraying Dubai in such a one-dimensional manner.

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One way we can show our true selves and lives in Dubai is to put good or real content out there
Abeer Alkhaja

"Dubai delivers on its 'laissez faire' promise, [but] its positioning, image and perception in global media and content cannot be stereotyped or have a single dimension," he tells The National.

"Dubai could well be portrayed as a global metropolis, [a] symbol of opulence, luxury, lifestyle of the rich and famous, and sometimes extravagance, yet at the same time, a global magnet for business, investment and talent — where people from around [the world] want to live, not just to do business but also to predict, design and shape the future."

Emirati sports coach Abeer Alkhaja, who also commented on Alamry's post, said it's up to the local community to show the real side of Dubai. "One way we can show our true selves and lives in Dubai is to put good or real content out there. It does not necessarily mean visually but in writing or verbally. This is something we and the coming generations should think about perusing. Generating good content."

What is 'The Real Housewives of Dubai'?

The Real Housewives of Dubai is the latest entry into the Housewives franchise, which has featured women from Beverly Hills, New York and Atlanta.

The Dubai spin-off, which was first announced in November, is the 11th instalment and the first to take place internationally.

On Wednesday, a new three-minute trailer was released, offering the first look at the series, which is set in the UAE. Featuring six socialites and influencers — Dr Sara Al Madani, Nina Ali, Chanel Ayan, Caroline Brooks, Lesa Milan and Caroline Stanbury ― it promises to deliver "a lot of things that you didn't expect to see in Dubai", according to executive producer Andy Cohen.

"Anything is possible in Dubai," Stanbury says in the teaser, over footage of a yacht. She's echoed by a co-star, who says: "It's a land of opportunity."

"There's a lot of gold here, and we have a lot of gold diggers, too," Ayan says in the teaser footage.

"I think people are going to be very surprised how much Dubai plays into things and the rules of Dubai and what's allowed for women there and what's not, and I think it's going to blow a lot of stereotypes out of the water," Cohen told ET. "You're going to see a lot of things that you didn't expect to see in Dubai.

"There's a lot of expats and the lifestyle is bigger there, the glamour is intense and it's just a totally different playground for them. I mean, it's somewhere we've never seen before."

Updated: May 22, 2022, 9:48 AM
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