Emirati women’s higher educational leadership formation under globalisation: culture, religion, politics, and the dialectics of modernisation

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a small state transitioning from traditional communities into a modern society. This is a complex process: it involves instilling a national identity over tribal structures; modernising and technologising while retaining Islam; ensuring a high level of security while allowing for a liberal and relatively free society; preserving culture while building one of the largest and most multicultural societies, albeit mostly expatriate; and providing one of the safest countries in the Arab world for women. This paper presents an expatriate female academic's position in relation to the emergent literature on the contradictory positioning of women in different Arab cultures. It reviews the literature in the light of anecdotal evidence drawn from the author's doctoral students' experiences as women leaders within the wider socio-cultural context of the UAE and the emergent higher education system that is considered central to its nation-building exercise. The discussion recognises the implications of different contexts for Emirati women moving into leadership positions and calls for further research in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-254
Number of pages16
JournalGender and Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2015


  • leadership
  • policy studies
  • post-colonial theory
  • social theory
  • higher educational leadership
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)

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