Bridging the gap Between Cultural Subordinate and Organisational Success: Emirati Women’s Liminal Economic Agency




economic agency, heritage;, liminality, modernity, narrative, United Arab Emirates


This paper explores responses to the latent, but still robust, cultural resistance to Emirati women's liminal economic agency in the United Arab Emirates. While a great deal of state policy has sought to encourage women into the workforce and to provide them with a level platform on which to participate economically, some religio-cultural values still prioritise women's family-related roles. One result of this is that there is substantial disparity between women's educational skills and the extent of their participation in the economy. This study uses narrative methodology to explore how Emirati women respond to the surviving prejudices that maintain that they are not fully entitled to engage in the workforce. A highly dominant theme that emerges in this study is that women have identified, and begun to celebrate, the role that women have played in the economic history of their country. They highlight that economically active women are not a new phenomenon in their society. The contribution this study makes is its analysis of how culture and gender are mutually reconstituted and how aspects of modernity are incorporated into a framework of traditional values. This analysis demonstrates a means by which women in a highly patriarchal society seek to defend and legitimate their unrestricted economic participation. It also illustrates how tradition and modernity become blended rather than existing as a dualism.