Emirati Women Leaders in the Cultural Sector: From "state Feminism" to Empowerment?

Laila Prager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the last decade Emirati women, due to their ever increasing educational achievements-sustained by a state politics of modernization-have ventured into a great variety of occupations. As a corollary, the term "women leadership" has become fashionable in public and governmental discourses, highlighting Emirati women's successes. In the article, I compare the state narrative on women leadership and female empowerment with the experiences of 30 Emirati women leaders from the cultural sector with whom I conducted extensive interviews (2018-19) about their career pathways, family background, achievements, and the various challenges and obstacles they face-both at work and at home. In this context, it is examined how Emirati women leaders are compelled to navigate between state feminist discourses and the still prevalent conservative gender role and value expectations in the United Arab Emirates. Finally, I discuss whether and to what extent UAE state feminism facilitates Emirati women's empowerment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-74
Number of pages24
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • United Arab Emirates
  • cultural sector
  • female leadership
  • gcc countries
  • patriarchy
  • state feminism
  • women empowerment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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