The book addresses the interconnected notions of gender, nation-building, and domestic socio-political dynamics in the newly established state of the United Arab Emirates that, while aspiring to establish a modern country, is still searching for self-definition and empowerment. It presents two forms of analyses. On the one hand, it investigates the strategic plan of the UAE state in creating and re-configuring alterations to the genderframe. On the other hand, it examines the resonance or impact of such a genderframe on the society in general and Emirati women in particular. The abstract term of genderframing is used by the author to refer to the dynamic and interactive process between the government or state and its population or society, which aims at reshaping or reinterpreting meanings connected to women-related policies. Such reinterpretations have been made by the UAE state revealing the changing roles of women as enviable and necessary for reasons related to nation-building objectives that include the promotion of family values and the maintenance of religious and cultural orientations. According to the author, this genderframing activity leads to the construction of a genderframe, a collective framework of interpretation that provides the population with constructive orientations with which to address women-related policies. The book provides a case study of the intersection of genderframing and nation-building in Gulf countries with a special focus on the UAE as the only successful experience of political union in the Arab world, notwithstanding its traditional polity as a tribal hereditary monarchy. The author collected data based on Internet searches, personal connections, and interviews that were conducted across the seven Emirates, the majority of which came from the Emirates of Dubai and Sharjah. In addition, the author used content analysis of women-related speeches and statements made by state officials and members of the ruling families, obtained from a variety of sources including official publications, websites, and online newspapers such as the Gulf News and al-Khaleej. The author briefly reviewed previous studies, especially those of Suaad al-Oraimi and Wanda Krause that defined the UAE state s position towards women as part of the government s project of development accentuating the nation s unity and identity building. In her attempt to further develop these insights, the author focused on the theme of how Emirati women have been a central part of the process of nation-building in their country. She tackled the historical economic, social and political conditions of the region showing how it has transformed from tribally organized trucial states dominated by British colonialism that made very little effort to improve the living conditions of the population of that region into a confederation of seven Emirates. The book divided the temporal development of the state s involvement in women empowerment into three stages, discussed in three independent chapters. First, during the period from 1971 to the early 1980s, tasks of nation-building were undertaken by the newly established state of the Emirates locating women as crucial players in the realization of those tasks. During this period, the state was involved in the creation of a modern nation and was particularly eager to eliminate the image of the backwardness of the society and its women. In a word, Emirati women were in the process of modernization and having their rights expanded. Second, was the period from the late 1970s until 2009 during which the state focused on the religious and indigenous roots of national culture as well as on the policy of emiratization. --el-Sayed el-Aswad, PhD United Arab Emirates University Al Ain, UAE
About the Author
Vania Carvalho Pinto has studied in Coimbra (Portugal), Leiden (Netherlands), Exeter (UK) and Hildesheim (Germany). She spent nearly a year and half in the UAE as Visiting Researcher both at the Sharjah Supreme Council for Family Affairs and at the University of Sharjah, researching for this book.