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MEST Forum: Women in the UAE, Past & Present
Speakers: Dr. Saeeda Al Marzooqi and Dr. Alia Al Bawardi from The Women’s Museum in Dubai
27/10/2015
The Middle Eastern Studies Division at AUD convened its second MEST forum of the semester titled Women in the UAE: Past and Presence. During the forum, Dr. Saeeda Al Marzooqi and Dr. Alia Al Bawardi told the story behind the Women’s Museum in Dubai, taking the audience through the journey of a historical and cultural platform that started as an individual vision with the Emirati Professor Rafia Obaid Ghubash only to become a phenomenon that brought a younger generation closer to understanding their heritage.
 
The museum includes hundreds of ancient artifacts from designs of traditional wear and accessories to political archives, personal photos and artistic expressions from the modern and contemporary periods. It has also a national archive and documentation center dedicated to the women of the UAE and a special hall for the poetic heritage of the well-known poet Ousha Bint Khalifa or ‘The Girl of the Arabs’.
 
Through stories of women of the Emirates, the guest speakers opened a window into their contributions in politics, art, poetry, business, education and other fields, and broke down stereotypes by revealing the extraordinary roles that women have played in defining their culture and shaping their society. As Dr. Al Bawardi stated: “Emirati women are the keepers of culture and history.”
 
Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Forum convener comments, “The recognition and celebration of women’s contributions is a major pillar in the struggle for a better diversity management. Furthermore, as introduced in our MEST courses such as Cultures in the Middle East, Islamic Art and Architecture and Women and Gender in the Middle East, the interdisciplinary and intersectional adopted approach in women’s and gender studies serves students in their learning about gender as a central organizing feature in all societies, including the Emirati and other Arab societies.
 
The Forum contributed to students’ understanding of the ways in which women’s roles in society have been constructed and the ways these roles have changed and continue to transform on personal, political and transnational levels.
 
It informed the audience and especially AUD students about issues of concern to women, including social roles and status, labor, representation, equality… Students face, and will face, these issues in their everyday lives,” concludes Dr. Chrabieh.
 

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