DUBAI: Following backlash from some corners of social media against the “Real Housewives of Dubai” reality show, which hit OSN in June, cast member and Emirati entrepreneur Sara Al-Madani opened up about her thoughts on the Middle Eastern edition of the international franchise.
Some social media users, including Emirati influencer Majid Alamry, criticized US cable network Bravo’s show, saying it does not represent housewives in the UAE.
When speaking to Arab News, Al-Madani said: “I do not represent anyone’s wife. I do not represent Emirati women. This is not a documentary. I am representing Sara, and Sara lives her life the way she wants.
“This is what the UAE is about. It is about giving you the freedom to achieve, be whoever you want to be and to accept you with tolerance,” she added.
“I do want to set an example for the modern Arab women to the West,” she said. “So that’s the image I’m representing and I’m trying to clarify, it’s to kill the stereotype.”
However, Al-Madani said that after the first two episodes aired, people understood the “purpose of the show. It is light entertainment. It is fun. I am honestly loving the experience,” she said.
The mother-of-two, who stars alongside British TV personality Caroline Stanbury, Kenyan model Chanel Ayan, US real estate director Caroline Brooks, Jamaican fashion designer Lesa Milan and Lebanese-American entrepreneur Nina Ali, said that filming the show was a “beautiful experience” and “huge exposure for Dubai.
“This show is in a city that is becoming the center of the whole world,” she explained. “I think the curiosity of the viewers is very high. This is what I think is very intriguing to people – having insight of how life is and how things happen here in this part of the world.”
Al-Madani said that she got the casting call for the “Real Housewives of Dubai” two years ago. “I was like ‘this is a joke. This is a prank, right?’ I did not believe it in the beginning,” she said.
The businesswoman turned down the offer at first and said: “I cannot do this. I cannot open up my life to the world. How is the Arab world going to perceive it?”
However, she then told herself: “‘Sara you are rebellious. You only live once. Take this opportunity. Everything happens for a reason. Just go for it.’”
When filming, Al-Madani said there were a lot of ups and downs.
“We are completely different individuals from different backgrounds, cultures and religions,” she said. “So of course there is conflict sometimes, but I am the type of person that’s very calm and peaceful. But, sometimes things get intense and you have to control yourself and at the same time remain you and not forget who you are,” she explained.
The star said that getting in front of the camera to film an “unscripted” show was challenging at first, but the more they filmed, the more comfortable she got. “You start living your life and you forget everyone is there,” she said.
With this show, Al-Madani hopes to tell the world how women in the Middle East are respected and appreciated.
“For the other girls, people might say they are expats; it's different. But I am Emirati. I am showing you exactly how I am living my life and how I am living my dreams,” Al-Madani said. “I could not achieve all these things unless my country believed in these things. Our leadership believes in women and the position of women in society.”
The show airs every Wednesday on Bravo and on OSN in the region.
In the first two episodes, the “self-made” women share glimpses of their lavish lives in the Middle Eastern city, from luxurious dinners to fancy parties.