An Assessment of the Status of Working Women in Dubai, U.A.E.

Topics: Dubai

There has been a lot of research that has been carried out to assess the status of women in the Arab world regarding cultural restrictions and gender bias in education and employment. In many Arabic nations, women are prohibited from seeking formal employment. In studies of gender factors and how they influence work, Arabic women are found to have very few opportunities to secure formal employment. The culture in some of the Arabic countries considers the role of women as homemakers and child bearers.

However, this has gradually changed with the phenomenal economic expansion of dynamic Muslim societies that accommodate women in formal employment (Vine, 5).

The United Arab Emirates leads in the empowerment of women in the Arab world.

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Having started as a desert region that was sparsely populated, the discovery of oil and its exploitation resulted in a huge flow of wealth that helped to spur unprecedented growth. The government, led by an Emir began putting in place structures to improve the quality of life for the residents, which was less than 100000. The oil wealth funded improved health care and education services. This led to a growth in the population due to improved health. There was increased education for both the male and the female children. Good education offered for the girls allowed them to pursue professional careers. Most of the nations in the Arab world practice Islam as the primary religion. Islam is the dominant religion in UAE.

Dubai is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Arab world. It has the largest population in the United Arab Emirates and is believed to be the economic capital of the U.A.E. as one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, Dubai is one of the best Arabian places where Arabic women are allowed to have professional jobs. The city is considered to have an accommodating societal perception of women. In the Arab world, the women population is restricted from having professional jobs. However, Dubai was placed 103 out of 134 in terms of gender balance in formal employment. This categorization is the best for Arabic countries. A survey conducted by World Economic Forum released in 2010 showed that the absorption of women into jobs in the U.A.E was much better than in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Al Gurg (15) reported that the rate of women’s participation in the professional environment was 59%, which was significantly higher than that of Saudi Arabia. This average for Dubai is greater than the population ratio where women form approximately 43% of the society. According to Glass (32), the promotion of girl child education was responsible for the high population of professional women in the city. The presence of the women in formal employment is also promoted by a supportive society attitude.

Despite the achievements of women in official professions, their numbers are small when the whole labor force is considered. Several factors are responsible for this including the restriction on female recruitment by any companies and marriage. Women’s employment is also affected by career choices with the women preferring to join medical professionals and avoiding labor-intensive careers. The construction industry is the largest source of employment in,  the UAE, especially in Dubai. However, the industry employs very few women. On the other hand, the hospitality industry is also a great source of employment and is highly populated with ladies’ employees (Heise et al 4).

The employment of women in Dubai reflects the national trend in the UAE. Education opportunities for women have been expanded, and the UAE has one of the best-educated women in the Arab world. The government also offers women employment with more than 60% of the government job being held by women. This is in contrast to other countries in the region. Saudi Arabia has a working population that constitutes only 14% of women. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to seek professional jobs, a preserve of women. They’re banned from owning property and can only do menial jobs. The environment is completely different in Dubai where the women are allowed to run businesses, own property, and even drive cars. The efforts made by the Emirati in promoting the development of careers for women have been hailed by the international community.

Despite the myriad of opportunities offered to Dubai women to pursue professional careers, there is a lot of concern rising from the wrong representation of women in the private sector professions. One of the factors that have been used to explain the low employment of women in the industry is the natural gender ratio of approximately 2.5:1 men to women respectively. Secondly, the low population in Dubai has made it necessary to import expatriate labor from other countries. Most of the migrants are male since the companies prefer to import male labor, especially for manual laborWomenen are also considered to be relatively more expensive than their male counterparts, demanding more benefits and leave days, especially maternity leaves.

The city also has very few childcare centers for young children. This makes the women quit work when they have kids since the cost of hiring chichildcareofessionals is relatively high. Due to this shift in the societal perception of women’s employment, there has been great research interest in the roles played by gender in obtaining work and the quality of the work reserved for each gender. It is necessary to understand how gender influences the opportunities that are available to the women in the UAE, and the factors that affect the quality of the jobs available to each gender. However, there is also a need to understand the context in which Dubai is offered employment. Understanding these two aspects of work would be very useful in determining the satisfaction of the women with their jobs. The understanding of the status of professional women in the UAE would also allow for the assessment of the possible shift in the prevention of women’s access to professional work in the Arab world. According to Krouse e al (2,0) th,e availability of employment should be counterchecked with the quality of the job. Job satisfaction is a key indicator of a society that treats women with equal opportunity. In the case of Dubai, is necessary to study how the culture and religion affect their ability to find formal employment.

It has been indicated through research that despite the government in Dubai promoting female employment, there is still a high prejudice against women working in management positions. The ratio of women in decision-making positions in the government is almost 30% for the government and less than 3% in the private sector. As stated earlier the recruitment of foreign labor mostly favors men especially for the senior management positions while foreign women workers are only offered menial jobs in the hospitality and domestic industry. It is therefore important to distinguish the availability of employment and the quality of the job that is offered.

Lightly (4) suggested that joa b should be assessed based on its availability and the quality of the compensation and working conditions. While studying the professional endowment of any Arabic society, it is important to note that culture has a very significant influence on the type of jobs available to women and the level of management they can occupy. While the culture in some Arabic countries allows women to run businesses, the same culture bars them from owning property. In Saudi Arabia, where the Islamic culture is a significant determinant of societal lifestyle, women are not allowed to drive.

They are expected to be homehomemakersth restrictions on formal employment. The situation in Dubai is significantly different from the other Arabic nations. In Dubai, the population is supportive of women who pursue professional careers. However, a significant number of male expatriate workers offset the gender balance for formal employment. Women are absorbed into jobs in health care and hospitality. The hospitality industry in the city of Dubai is a multibillion-dollar industry. Most of the expatriate labor in Dubai is composed of foreign males due to bias by recruiting agencies against hiring female foreign labor. The private sector depends mostly on foreign labor while the government employs domestic labor and is very favorable to women’s employment. To understand the quality of the work offered to women in Dubai, there is a need to assess the level of job satisfaction exhibited by female employees. Job satisfaction is an age-old strategy used to evaluate the quality of employment in the eyes of the employees. Skalli et al., (56) state that the level of job satisfaction is the best indicator of job quality. It is a direct reflection of the level to which the employee enjoys the job.

A study was conducted to assess the condition of the working environment for professional women in Dubai.


  1. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Arab Human Development Report 2002 (New York: UNDP, 2002): 54.
  2. Graham A. Finding, retrieving, and evaluating journal and web-based information for evidence-based optometry. Clinical & experimental optometry, 2007, 90(4):244–9.
  3. Heise L, Ellsberg M, Gottemoeller M: Ending Violence Against Women. Population Information Program, Baltimore: John’s Hopkins University School of Public Health; 1999. Report No.: Series L, No. 11
  4. Vidyasagar G, Rea D. Saudi women doctors: gender and careers within Wahhabic Islam and ‘westernized’ work culture. Women’s studies international forum, 2004, 27 (3):261-80.
  5. Vine, Paula, ed. “United Arab Emirates Yearbook.London”: (2009).Trident Press.

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An Assessment of the Status of Working Women in Dubai, U.A.E.. (2022, Jun 13). Retrieved from

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