The UAE are expending a lot of effort to achieve ambitious goals when it comes to gender equality. However, this website is mainly highlighting discriminatory practices in the UAE, which can damage entire families during divorce and custody disputes.

Fundamentally different understanding of and approach to “gender equality”

On the government’s website referring to gender equality, there is a section about “Protecting Women’s welfare” which contains clear hints that – with regard to marriage, custody and divorce – the UAE define and approach “gender equality” through discriminatory measures. This website is presenting the fact that the UAE determines specific roles and duties for both genders as progress: 

“The UAE adopted provisions to protect women’s social and financial welfare. Married women are entitled by the law to have marriage dowry and regular maintenance expenses paid by the husband. Expenses include living, food, medical and household costs.

 If the husband fails to provide for his wife, the woman can file a suit before the court to claim expenses owed by the husband.

In case of a divorce, women are entitled to receive the postponed dowry in addition to custody expenses of the children.” (link)

It is quite clear that gender-based discrimination is relatively common in the UAE. Such discrimination is particularly damaging to women and girls, at least in comparison to most countries in the world. 

Essentially the cases described on this website show that discriminatory practices are harmful to children, women and men. Discriminating women and discriminating men are just two sides of the same coin.

Please find below some background information on gender-based discrimination in the UAE, more specifically on discrimination against women:

Gender Equality & Sustainable Development Goals

The UAE are working hard to achieve several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Currently the UAE are ranked as number 65 with regards to the SDGs (link).

  • “Gender equality” is one of the SDGs. Out of the 17 SDGs, there are only 3 areas in which the UAE are faring worse than in “gender equality”. This shows clearly, that the UAE are relatively weak in terms of “gender equality”, even compared to their own standards.
  • However, the UAE are scoring above the average of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with regards to “gender equality” (link)
  • Interestingly enough, the first indicator by which “gender equality” is being measured is described like this: “Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non‑discrimination on the basis of sex” – from the various reports and from this website it is clear, that the legal framework in the UAE is often discriminatory on the basis of gender

Global Gender Gap Report

The World Economic Forum is also ranking the UAE in their Global Gender Gap Report (2017). Again, the UAE are performing quite strongly in comparison to the MENA region. The global ranking is number 120 (of 144 countries, link). The ranking is based on 4 sub-indices, none of which is related to divorce and custody (neither term is mentioned):

  • Economic Opportunity and Participation
  • Educational Attainment
  • Health and Survival
  • Political Empowerment

Systematic Discrimination

Various international entities have documented systematic discrimination against women in the UAE (link)

Alleged mistreatment and actual escapes of women

Various attempts of women who try to flee the UAE due to alleged mistreatment, are well documented. High profile cases include:

  • Princess Haya – link
  • Sheika Latifa – link
  • Sheika Shamsa – link