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Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki: The real Arab men’s perception of women
June 22, 2012
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As both an Arab and an Emirati, I come across many questions regarding the many aspects of our lives that were asked by people from other walks of life that have either little or no interaction at all with our culture. The most recurring theme out of these questions is the one regarding the way we view women in our culture.

“Do you allow women to drive?” “Does it bother you that they are more successful than you at work?” “Is it true that they have to cover themselves from head to toe otherwise they will be punished?” and “When a women gets married, does she have to stay in the house for the rest of her life?” are just a few of the many questions we are asked regarding women.

In all honesty, it is good that people do ask these questions because it is better for them to find out the truth than have a fixed view on how Arabs treat their women based on rumours, false reports and the endless number of anti-women crimes caused by individuals that were never right in their heads.

We all need to come to an understanding that there are two types of male perceptions on women. One is from the well informed, well-educated and reasonable man who not only thinks but critically thinks as well. The other is from the poorly educated, highly misinformed, constantly repressed man that has no interaction with women and gets easily intimated or jealous of the amount of success and freedom a woman has. The latter should never be taken seriously and should never be let out of his cave to share his thoughts, because that would be worse than spreading diseases.

Real Arab men don’t view women as objects; they see them as mothers, sisters, daughters, and aunts. Real Arab men don’t get intimidated or scared of women in their workplace that are successful, they accept them as healthy and friendly competition that will motivate the men to do better. Real Arab men don’t threaten women or speak to them in a condescending tone; they speak to them as equals just as how they want people to speak to their female relatives. Real Arab men won’t hit women, but they will break the head of any man that treated women badly.

In general, Arab governments and societies have never been oppressive towards women, however it is easy for others to believe otherwise because most of the time it is the individuals that are causing the problems and those problems are usually escalated from the media and social media to make it look like the fault of the government or society, I guess it does take one rotten apple to spoil the whole fruit salad.

However what is even funnier yet sadly unfair is how the many gender-biased discrepancies that are located within one or two areas can affect the way the rest of the world view people who are from the neighbouring Arab countries or of Arab ethnicity as people who gasp in horror every time a woman either drives a car, lifts weights, enter into politics, doesn’t cover herself up completely or has a different opinion about something.

I always believe that women are free to do anything and that they are more than capable of handling it. Speaking from personal experience, I was raised in a family where I was the only (and youngest) boy out of 5 children and ever since my father passed away 20 years ago it was my mother who took care of us and my late father’s businesses at the same time ever since then. It is because of her, we were able to thrive and become the educated individuals we are today. With a positive female role model, a man can become a real man.

I shall end this with a quote of a real Arab man on woman: “Nothing could delight me more than to see the woman taking up her distinctive position in society. Nothing should hinder her progress. Like men, women deserve the right to occupy high positions according to their capabilities and qualifications.”

—Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan
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The writer, based in Abu Dhabi,
is a graduate of New York Institute
of Technology (AD). He is the author
of Under My Black Halo.

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