‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’: Entertaining, but a missed opportunity  

‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’: Entertaining, but a missed opportunity  
The series airs every Wednesday on Bravo. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 June 2022

‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’: Entertaining, but a missed opportunity  

‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’: Entertaining, but a missed opportunity  

DUBAI: The first episode of the much-anticipated UAE-based franchise of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” is finally here. 

The reality TV show stars six cast-members — British TV personality Caroline Stanbury, Kenyan model Chanel Ayan, US real estate director Caroline Brooks, Emirati businesswoman Sara Al-Madani, Jamaican fashion designer Lesa Milan and Lebanese-American entrepreneur Nina Ali. 

In the first episode, the “self-made” women share glimpses of their lavish lives in the Middle Eastern city, from luxurious dinners to fancy parties.


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The episode begins with a disclaimer that states: “The views, information or opinions expressed in this show belong solely to the individuals displayed and do not represent those of Emirati society as a whole.”

“The relevant authorities are not responsible and do not verify the accuracy of the information contained in the show. The primary purpose of this series is to entertain.”

This is wise considering the backlash the show has faced in recent weeks, with Emirati social media personalities stepping up to say the show does not represent homegrown values.

And they could be right — extravagance, luxury and drama are all that you should expect from the show. However, isn’t that what the franchise is all about? Whatever the case, it’s sure to kick up a storm online in the coming hours and days.

The series, which airs every Wednesday on Bravo and on OSN in the region, reflects stereotypical views of Dubai: The desert, the gold, the fancy cars, luxurious yachts and “gold diggers.”

Despite the one-sided portrayal of life in Dubai, viewers should be reminded that the aim of the show – much like it’s US-based sister shows — is not to represent real Emirati housewives (in fact, Al-Madani is the only Emirati on the show). It is for entertainment purposes and fans who expect a healthy dose of drama, and on that note it delivers.  In addition, it’s rather refreshing to see on-screen recognition of the many, many nationalities that call Dubai home.

However, one would expect to learn more about the city’s culture and traditions through women living in the country, whether expats or locals.

Despite endearing shots of Al-Madani speaking to her children almost exclusively in Arabic and her proclaimed desire to preserve local traditions — she says “I have to keep doing it because I love our culture” — there is very little that shows off the best of what Dubai’s community — whether local or expat — has to offer.

Although set in the UAE, it is catered to Western audiences and does revive an Orientalist approach that one would have hoped to be rid of in this day and age. At one point the editors even mistake the Palm Jumeirah for the inland area of Jumeirah — something eagle eyed viewers will catch in a heartbeat.  

As touched on before, one hugely positive point is that the cast members come from different origins, which represents that vast diversity in the country.

“I have met people from countries I have never even thought in my entire life I would meet,” says Ayan at the beginning of the episode, which, to be fair, is how many expats feel living in the cultural melting pot that is Dubai.