Bonnie Milne


Creating Social Capital Inspiring Stories Of Emirati Women

The research was conducted in Ras Al Khaimah, located in the Northernportion of the United Arab Emirates. I worked with fifteen Emirati women, fourteenof whom are graduates of Ras Al Khaimah Women’s College (RKW) and one who isa graduate of the United Arab Emirates University in the Emirate of Al Ain (UAEU).In this case study, I have used the 4 D method of Appreciative Inquiry, anaction research application of social construction, supplemented by Photovoicesessions.The women, who participated in the research, shared narratives aboutcontributing to their families and the community and based on the strengths revealedin these narratives, they created dreams of their futures. These futures include:completing their studies at the Master’s and PhD level, creating healthier, happierfamilies, volunteering in the community, and contributing to the effectiveness of thenational education system. A number of the women have taken the first steps alongthe path to these futures.This research provides a number of alternative stories to the story that isusually told about Middle Eastern women, the story that they are submissive, passiveand inferior. The narratives the women shared are narratives of accomplishment,contribution and strength. With their focus on actual women in the workplace, thesestories can be used to provide an injection of life and voice to cross cultural trainingfor expatriates working in the United Arab Emirates. They will also make it possiblefor Emirati girls and women to celebrate the achievements of their ‘sisters’ andperhaps co-construct new narratives of their futures.This case study involved college and university graduates who are employed,future research could focus on Emirati women in other walks of life. These futurestudies will, I’m sure, reveal different narratives creating many more alternatives tothe current ‘single story’ of Middle Eastern women. As Myra Virgil points out in herdissertation, ‘We cannot assume that one way of understanding is necessarily thesame as others or is in any particular way closer to the truth’ (Virgil, 2006, p. 26).Each perspective is – rather than right or wrong, supplemental to others (Merrill,2011, p. 100)