Fifty Years of Emirati Women’s Education: Research Proposal

Political science

Write a research proposal on the “Fifty Years of Emirati Women’s Education: Past, Present, And Future” by using the outline below: Introduction (1/2 page) Justification Research Question Research Objective Literature Review (6 pages) Methodology (3/4 page) This section should explain what you did and why. It needs to be written in the simple past tense. State the population […]

Fifty Years of Emirati Women’s Education: Past, Present, And Future


The project examines the development of Emirati women’s education in the UAE and its improvement. Post-unification, the UAE, under Sheikh Zayed’s rule, sought to improve women’s education and increase enrollment in schools and universities. Since then, the UAE has taken huge leaps in developing women’s education by establishing governmentally funded institutions and scholarships designed specifically for women. UNDP Education Index may be used (Education index, expected years of schooling, mean years of schooling). I believe that looking at such indicators will give me a good overview of education development in the UAE. I will then be looking at what has caused this development and if modernization theory may be able to describe it. Then, I will look at what gender-specific (to Emirati women) obstacles the UAE faces to furthering women’s education and possible solutions I may offer.


This topic is important to me as an Emirati woman on a personal level because of the opportunities available to me as a student. It is relevant today due to the criticisms the Gulf world faces from liberalist states and its negative light on women. It is also relevant because there is little knowledge spread about Emirati women from Emirati women. I believe this is an important issue to women in the Gulf and policymakers who may find it beneficial to address education development issues. I also think it will be interesting for liberal states to change stereotypes of Arab women.

Research Question

How did Emirati women’s education develop in the UAE, and what are the obstacles facing further development?

Research Objective

This research aims to find the development of education in the UAE in the past fifty years. The past will look at the history of the development of this sector in the UAE, such as Samier’s findings (2015). The second component of this research will look at current trends in education and analyze their effectiveness in women’s education. This paper will look at women’s progression in education: elementary, secondary, and higher. This may be explained by modernization theory, similar to Khondker’s findings (2011). The future component of this research will analyze what obstacles the UAE may face in advancing UAE women’s education. This essay will aim to find this out through the lens of a social policy scientist.

Literature Review

Immeasurable studies have been conducted regarding education in Middle East countries, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In the recent past, Arab scholars have denoted that education in Arab countries has undergone a degree of development. Gender and education have been among the issues that have been considered in the research. Particularly, vast advancements have been accomplished within the women’s education sector in the UAE. Most academics agree that the past 20 years have seen UAE education growing, positively influencing development goals. Sheikh Zayed’s role played a pivotal part in improving women’s education. During Zayed’s leadership, the number of females enrolled in universities and schools increased dramatically. Equally, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) triggered the status quo of UAE women’s education. In this regard, the study on Emirati women’s education will enable me to gain an excellent understanding of education in the UAE and its challenges and possibly make recommendations.

UAE Education Budget

According to research by Ashou and Fatima (2016), the UAE has shown a vibrant upward trend in education financing since 2005. For example, the government’s allocated budget increased in the fiscal year 2009-2010 from USD 2.7 billion to USD 1.61 Billion in 2004 (Ashour & Fatima, 2016). Barham (2017) further observes that the government considers education as one of the top priorities in achieving the UAE’s vision 2021 goals. The 2014 federal budget underpins this focus on education by a Dh9.8 billion or 21% allocation (Barhem, 2017). Of the allocation, academic excellence programs received Dh3.8 billion, while general education improvement in local universities got Dh6 billion.

Milestones in Emirati Women’s Education

According to Samier, several Emirati women have achieved milestones in the education sector, with some becoming lecturers in Western countries (2015). Notably, some people still have stereotypical views regarding Arab women. Some view them as females whose knowledge is only based on Islam teachings and is immensely linked to their traditional cultures. Currently, modernization in Arab countries has opened countless opportunities for females, including opportunities to access the highest level of education. Samier illustrates that most families in the Arab states support girls and women in the sense that they allow them to finish their education (2015). As a result, Emirati women are among the most advantaged in the gulf due to the open opportunities and family and government support.

Rising Education Costs

According to Wilkins (2010), Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the highest populated regions, contains the highest establishment of private learning institutions in recent years. Similarly, the rising school fees, especially in private schools, is a consequence of the rising demand for education in the UAE; however, this does not deter education opportunities, as the author demonstrates that the whole country’s population can access the private education system through government subsidies. However, the provision does not cover expatriates and UAE nationals, who are expected to pay the whole fee, thus making it unaffordable due to the expenses involved. Wilkins (2010) pointed out that only a limited number of scholarships are obtainable for learning at private institutions, offered by the institutions or by the government. An improvement in the quality of education offered is another reason that some schools claim has led to the increase. Given this, many have embraced learning in the UAE, which has become a basic need. Both Emirati females and males believe that it is through education that they can grow liberated and for this reason, investing in it is inevitable.

Emirati Women’s Higher Education

Higher education for women in Arab countries has existed for a few decades. According to Khondker, Emirati females in UAE colleges are the first or second ones in their generation to acquire an education. Hence, many have uneducated mothers who were married at young ages (2010). Therefore, it is anticipated that there are numerous future opportunities for Emirati females due to the consistent improvements in the education sector. Upon academic achievements, Emirati women are motivated to be decision-makers in various settings, such as community, business, government, and nonprofit organizations. Learning among Emirati women is a factor that is considerably transforming us to become more informed and enlightened. There have been various success stories among Emirati females concerned with education in the last three decades. Markedly, the UNDP indicates that the number of women accessing education at higher levels is consistently rising. Stereotypical aspects that link a woman to the role of mother, housekeeper, and homemaker are fading.

Gender and Employment in The UAE

Abdulla states that in every five students in public higher learning institutions, three are women and the majority are first-generation university students (2015). In principle, the first Emirati school for males was established in the year 1950, while that of their female counterparts came a decade later. Such an aspect portrays the measure of gender discrimination that was perpetuated during that time. Nevertheless, females have managed to surpass men due to the strong support they receive from Emirati leaders. Another reason for women’s massive numbers in schools is the numerous cost-free and gender-segregated primary, secondary, and higher learning institutions. According to Abdulla, despite their education, the women’s employment rate in the UAE is low because of the Arab culture that forbids them from working with men to guard family honour (Abdulla, 2015). The United Arab Emirates has achieved dramatically in terms of women’s education and employment in its 38-years history.

Raven, in her findings, indicates that the United Arab Emirates should have a strategy for an efficient way of employing individuals (2011). Predominantly, there are extreme imbalances in how jobs are allocated in the UAE. The irregularities are linked to the country’s ranking as one of the top economic powers in the world. As a result, the government launched Emiratization, an initiative aiming to improve employment allocation among the Emirati population. In recent years, the UAE has given the issue of education maximum attention. The government believes that it is through effective education that a stronger and more reliable workforce can be created. The principal objective of the initiative is to employ individuals by their professions and proficiency.

Development in Education

Central to the research by Goby and Erogul (2011), since the formation of the UAE in 1971, the government leaders have expended substantial effort to ensure the female population is educated. Government leaders have further facilitated women taking up business leadership positions. The UAE founding leader, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is regularly cited with his proclamation: “females have the right to be employed everywhere.” Goby and Erogul (2011) have argued that one outcome of this initiative is that 76.8% of students in UAE universities in the year 2000 were females. Arguably, this statistic gave the country the highest rates of females in higher education globally. As such, Goby and Erogul (2011) concluded that the high level of education in the UAE seems to inspire entrepreneurial drive in women. This is because education operates as personal evidence of being equipped to carry out business enterprise.

Earlier research findings by Alsharari (2018) revealed that in the UAE, the internationalization of higher education had grown rapidly in the last decade. Due to this growth, the UAE has sought to promote and establish itself as an “education hub” in the Middle East. Moreover, the country’s three primary forces encouraging globalization are imported internationalization, quality assurance, and neoliberalism. Such forces have been crucial because, before 1971, the available education in the UAE was basic (Engin & McKeown, 2017). However, more females have taken up the opportunity to learn than men since higher education became freely available. The study by Engin and McKeown (2017) showed that the pursuit of higher education by women in the UAE has become a familial and social expectation and that females are encouraged to pursue higher education as a result of its availability.

Findlow (2013) demonstrates that with the degree of developments conspicuous both in the education and economic sectors of the UAE, the issue of feminism can be revealed. Primarily, history depicts the Gulf States as nations with prevalent cases of gender discrimination, especially against women. In effect, Emirati women seek to access equal opportunities akin to their male counterparts. Nonetheless, the strong cultural ties in the country have prevented females’ pleas for liberation (Alsubaie & Jones, 2017). Education has become one of the basics in the nation. Nevertheless, women are yet to access all their rights. However, the improvements that have been realized in the UAE assume that somehow more unpredictable changes may happen in the future.


The current investigation conducted secondary research, which entailed using data that is accessible via government records and past scholars. The secondary research approach was adopted because it required less time; it need not require payment for various research costs, such as providing participants with compensation for participating. Furthermore, it did not require much time since the secondary data were easily accessible (Johnston, 2017). Last but not least, the secondary research offered a large scope of data and data that have been collected professionally.

The current study aimed to evaluate Emiratis Women’s education in the UAE and the obstacles facing further development. In attaining this objective, the study examined the women who have participated in higher education because they have embraced the opportunities in formal education made available to them since the foundation of the state. Importantly, this group will provide a clear picture of women’s progression in education: elementary, secondary, and higher.

The use of secondary participants is vital in a study because they offer information regarding people they are related to or know. In this respect, the current study included 34 participants from the Women’s Federation of the UAE. They were chosen through the random selection method to ensure each group member had an equal opportunity to be selected as a participant. Being a quasi-governmental autonomous body, the group in question was also chosen to participate due to its significant role in ensuring the provision of educational opportunities for women.

The secondary research data was gathered from trusted research organizations and official government sources. While such data was gathered for various purposes, such as policy planning and budget development, analyzing and reviewing them uncovered large-scale trends regarding education development in UAE. Conversely, the qualitative data was obtained from social artefacts, particularly blogs and newspaper articles (Dunn, Arslanian-Engoren, DeKoekkoek, Jack, & Scott, 2015). The reason for choosing the method is that the data presented a rich source of information concerning the UAE women in society and offered a great deal of detail and context concerning women’s progression in education.

The entire process of secondary research also involved ethical considerations. The study took various steps to ensure the analysis was conducted to a highly ethical standard. For example, the study had the same obligation as the primary researcher to honour data subject privacy. Despite secondary research, this analysis was able to identify data subjects; however, this ability was not used to help others identify or harm them (Tripathy, 2013). The study also implied permission for further analysis and use of secondary data. The ownership of the original data was also acknowledged.

Findings and Analysis

The current analysis aimed to determine how Emirati women’s education develops in the UAE and the obstacles facing further development. The data from this investigation suggest that female students in the UAE are currently in the majority at all higher education levels. Arguably, the United Arab Emirate’s women’s success in academic circles is mostly multi-factorial. The first factor is centred on the continuing strong endorsement from the state’s leadership for the pursuit of education, which gives the females in the country more opportunities to participate in the affairs of the state (Madsen & Cook, 2010). Embedded in this backing is a cost-free tertiary, secondary, and primary public education system, enabling women of varying familial circumstances and socio-economic status to access higher education (Savior & Al-Zoubi, 2018). The data has also proven that the remarkable growth experienced in the higher education sector is guided by few restrictions on foreign universities opening branches in the country and policy commitment by the state.

Various lessons have been learned from conducting this research. The most significant is that the state, school, and society should play a substantial role in the resolution of many girls to pursue higher education. As an illustration, the family provides the girls with an environment that offers limited distractions and encourages their education. The learning institutions offer positive role models and a nurturing environment. Lastly, through a shortage of public sector jobs for females generally, the state signals that in the absence of suitable education, it will be very difficult to find employment (Samier, 2015). The mentioned factors combine to form a system that allows young women to continue their education actively.

The findings have also proven the hypothesis that access to education is the stimulus for the development of UAE women. The data has demonstrated that women have excelled locally and globally under the government scholarship program provided by the YAE. In fact, the women in the state outperform their male counterparts at every level of education. The data has revealed that part of the motivation to learn is centred on a transformative power. The innovative learning in the institutions allows for critical reflection, self-realization, and self-understanding. Moreover, the women go through a professional and personal transformation through which they better understand their opportunities and capabilities.

Based on the data, the most important finding is that education remains a top priority for the government in the UAE. The focus of vision 2021 in the state is on the development of a first-rate system of education (Al-Khouri, 2012). For this reason, there is a persistent rapid expansion in the education sector. Some of the strengths of the UAE higher education include gaining an international and regional reputation, serving Emiratis, expanding campuses, providing scholarships, providing quality programs, having a quality faculty, building adequate public facilities, and ensuring the admission of women (Amaize, Mady, & Benson, 2011). However, higher education faces challenges that lead to some obstacles to further development. For instance, the state has not succeeded in offering to fund required to maintain per-student support or meet growing student enrolment at the international level of quality. Maintaining the commitment of the UAE to providing Emirati women with a place in higher education mirrors how Emirati society values education.

The secondary data presented great potential value in understanding the development of Emirati women’s education development and the obstacles facing further development; however, such data has weaknesses that led to various anomalies. For example, the information was not in a form exactly suited for the goals of the current study because they were collected in its original format to meet the research purpose (Johnston, 2017). For this reason, the secondary data did not perfectly cover the interest of the study, and the measurements of the concepts and variables did not altogether reflect the exact concern of the study. The originators of the primary research were mainly self-governed and controlled by the scholar. Consequently, it was vital to closely scrutinize the origins of the data since some of them were questionable. It was also challenging to take adequate steps to assess the reliability and validity of the information presented critically.


The study’s findings appear to show an improvement in educational opportunities for Emirati women. As a result, this has increased the number of female students in private and government schools at all levels, including elementary, secondary, and higher. The number of women continuing to higher education surpassed that of their male counterparts, and they outperformed the males at every level of education. Consequently, this has made it possible for Emirati women to exercise their right to participate in the decision-making process and the labour market.

The accomplishment of the current study is that it has contributed to Dubai 2021, which aims to reinforce the region’s positioning as a global destination and centre across various fields, including social and economic development. The study shows that education allows people to enhance their ability and skills to contribute to the society and economy of Dubai. However, the study did not go as planned due to various possible limitations. For instance, some of the data were also not realistic to the current situation since such data lacked objectivity quality. In many cases, finding information that seemed promising and valuable was easy. Nonetheless, obtaining the full version of the valuable study was difficult. Possible new research that could be conducted to build on this project further is to analyze how women can function in an education role because it is evident that women educators can contribute to social policy, employment, and education both through their influence and directly on girls throughout the education process.


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