Deina Rabie

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Texas, Austin, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9763

Approve Date

October 24, 2018

Project Title

Rabie, Deina, U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'The English Channel: Language and Gendered Mobility among Emirati Women in the United Arab Emirates,' supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Keating

DEINA RABIE, then a graduate student at University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded funding in October 2018 to aid research on ‘The English Channel: Language and Gendered Mobility among Emirati Women in the United Arab Emirates,’ supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Keating. Funding supported phase 2 of dissertation research in the UAE’s northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. This research followed a year of phase 1 research in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi. With anxieties about the end of oil, the UAE state is pushing Emiratis in their forties and younger away from a passive oil-subsidy receiving citizenry toward a neoliberal citizenship through participation in the country’s growing multinational enterprises. Interestingly, Emirati men continue to take the lead in labor force employment, mainly in the gender-segregated, Arabic-dominant public sector. Meanwhile, with the support of a robust state-feminist agenda, more Emirati women are pursing social and economic mobility through English-medium higher education and transnational professional domains. The project poses three main questions: How does the UAE’s drive towards English preference for professional and economic gain compete with discourses of Bedouin tradition, patriarchal gender roles, Islam, and ethno-nationalism, indexed by the UAE’s national language, Arabic? How does English acquisition and exposure to new professional spaces produce new forms of embodiment, particularly comportment and appearance, for Emirati women that reflect and create new subjectivities? How do these, in turn, contribute to shifts in gender ideologies and a restructuring of relational power hierarchies at the workplace and domestic sphere? Findings from phase 2 in Ras Al Khaimah reinforced that while the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are at the forefront of the UAE’s shift toward a global knowledge economy, Emirati women across the country have real stakes in using English-medium higher education and associated channels to access employment opportunities in the transforming economy.