The Women’s Museum in Dubai: Celebrating the lives and achievements of women in the UAE

Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at AUD, Dr. Pamela Chrabieh organized a field trip for her MEST 353 Women and Gender in the Middle East students on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the Women’s Museum in Dubai.

The museum is a unique cultural initiative in the Arab World and the Gulf region, dedicated to the exploration and celebration of the lives and achievements of many women in the United Arab Emirates. Located in a house of historical importance dating from the 1950s, Bait Al Banat (‘Girls House’), it was established by Professor Rafia Ghubash who believes in the centrality of women’s roles in defining the Emirati culture and shaping their society.

According to Dr. Chrabieh: “It was an honor to have Professor Ghubash as our guide and host. She told us personal and national stories of the past and present of women in the UAE, and students were able to deconstruct stereotypes and learn about the diverse activities and contributions of women in academia, business, politics and culture.”

From series of photographs and passport copies, to public documents, poems, artefacts, burqas, abayas, jewelry, sculptures and paintings, the three-floor museum embodies Dr. Ghubash’s statement: “You have to learn that your rights are born with you. Don’t think the government or your husband will give you a right. It’s inside you, just practice it”. Indeed, the examples of Sheikhas as peacemakers, women pioneers in education and famous poets such as Ousha Bint Khalifa mirror both the story of the UAE and that of self-empowered human beings with diverse gender constructions and expressions.”

Furthermore, this encounter with the multifaceted lives of Emirati women down through history helped students understand the value of national and individual memories and narratives, the importance of heritage preservation and the richness of new lights that shed on the present by examining the past; lights, for Dr. Chrabieh, “that fill the tunnel of our knowledge building journey.


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