Generations of Change
The discovery of oil in the late 1960s catapulted the people of Abu Dhabi out of the isolating poverty into which it had plunged in the 1930s and onto the global stage. Massive construction projects built the city and infrastructural developments altered the physical and cultural landscape; in a few breathtaking decades, the lives of Emiratis were transformed by new opportunities and a social welfare system that offered free education, medical treatment, generous pensions, subsidies to families, and government incentives offered to citizens to participate in all sectors of the economy. Oil wealth also brought new expectations and new life-styles that are often sophisticated and lavish yet just as often criticised for being conspicuous displays of unbridled consumerism. Emirati Women offers a rare view into the lives of Emirati women and how they perceive the changes that have made poverty a dim and almost forgotten memory. In Emirati Women, Bristol-Rhys weaves together eight years of conversations and interviews with three generations of women, her observations of Emirati society in Abu Dhabi, the unflattering stereotypes commonly heard in the extensive expatriate communities, and discussions with her Emirati university students on topics ranging from marriage, independence, freedom, and the future.
Jane Bristol-Rhys is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Zayed University Abu Dhabi, where she has taught since 2001. She was educated at the American University in Cairo and the University of Washington, Seattle. She is the author of Emirati Women: Generations of Change, also published by Hurst, as well as numerous articles and chapters on Emirati history and society.
‘This book should be read by everyone interested in Arab women.’ — Middle East Journal
‘Jane Bristol-Rhys’s volume is less a historical account of gender struggle and more a collection of conversations with successive generations of Emirati women. In preparing this work, the author has used both her decades of regional experience and her eight-and-a-half-year stint as a lecturer at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed University to admirable effect.’ — The National
‘Emirati Women is a very welcome addition to our knowledge of the people of the Arab Gulf and fills a large void in an area where women’s voices, are, in general, still marginalised. Little that is published on the area offers readers the local inhabitants’ viewpoint which is why the oral narratives and interviews presented in this book illustrate so tellingly the lives of those who are otherwise marginalised and ignored, thereby revealing a fascinating world that is usually obscured in conventional accounts’. — Dr Wanda Krause, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
‘Emirati Women is an engaging, insightful and lucidly written study on this important subject. Anyone who wants to discover how and why the role of women is changing within this dynamic Gulf state must read this book’. — Steven Wright, Assistant Professor, Department of International Affairs, Qatar University, and author of The United States and Persian Gulf Security
‘Jane Bristol-Rhys provides an interesting new look at the lives of UAE women. … [Her] collection of different women’s voices … can shed new light on Emiratis’ lived experiences of change over the past decades. … By giving voice to women from different parts of society, Bristol-Rhys is able to paint a dense and colourful picture of social life in the contemporary UAE. … Her collection of different Emirati women’s voices…offers rare and engaging new glimpses into a society undergoing rapid change.’ — Journal of Arabian Studies