The Lobby for Abu Dhabi — An Essay by Carrie Bradshaw

Recently, Ms. Bradshaw traveled to the Emirates for a glamorous vacation with a few pals. Here, she recounts her thoughts about her time in Abu Dhabi.

As I sit here in my sparkling new genie shoes, I am in a post-vacation glow. It was easy to become overwhelmed with the glittering luxury of our suite in Abu Dhabi, the cocktails, and the shopping. Upon returning from my trip, I could not help but be overwhelmed with a bit of patriotism. I have always been the greatest fan of this tiny island of Manhattan, but our trip to Abu Dhabi got me to thinking about sexism in the Middle East.

Underneath the burqa of fabulous glamour, we saw a whole lot of oppression of women in Abu Dhabi. Between the drab black and the lowered gazes, gender norms in the Middle East could do with a bit of a makeover. After all, even though we don’t exactly have equality here, at least our oppression can strut down Fifth in couture. I wonder what can change for women in the Middle East. Is oppression a timeless classic, like my Chanel dress, or do we toss it completely, like Charlotte’s paint-stained Valentino? I have a few ideas myself, and these are things that I think can help spin an old classic into a funky modern hit.

The first thing that needs to change in the Middle East is the lack of alcohol. These people could do with a bit of loosening up. A bit more liquor and people would just be less angry! Why else would angry old men surround Samantha when she dropped half a pound of golden-wrapped latex in a crowded market? They surrounded her like a flash mob of judgement.

Also, with alcohol, officials would have something real to police instead of fun. It is true that it was pretty nice of that chic sheikh to bring us over on a business trip, but he shouldn’t have expected us to be boring and respect the culture or anything if it gets in the way of fun. Sex on the beach is more than a great cocktail, you know? You can get arrested for that in the Middle East! How can sex on a beach be a punishable offense anywhere?

I thought this was going to be a trip into Aladdin with cocktails, but I got so much more than that. The new Middle East is hardly new at all, and they need to get off the camel and realize that life is far too short to be a backward prude.

Dowdy black gowns are Victorian and out! We felt just awful for those poor Arab women. We saw the way they looked longingly out our glamorous and vibrant couture. A change of clothes gives you a fresh view of oppression! We had this epiphany on this trip—the chokehold of patriarchy is pretty strong in the Middle East and in the city. The difference between those women and us is that we look fabulous under oppression! We can get through the world of men getting us down because at least we can pick our clothes and drink cocktails by the pool.  We didn’t really get to talk to many Arab women on the trip, but the ones that rescued us were completely jealous of the fact that we could leave the house in our couture and they couldn’t.

I can understand why they have so many issues with not being able to get dressed properly. I would wear a drab bag too if I couldn’t interact with men. How does an Arab girl live without being able to interact with her very own Abdul?* What is a girl without her gay best friend? Gay best friends are the most classic accessories; they never go out of style. They’re just like your Barbie dolls! You can match them to your outfit, they will accompany you anywhere (especially if your boring husband wants to have takeout and watch TV), and you might even be able to get them to marry each other! The separation between men and women was a real drag, and I would have totally extended that lesbian experimental college thing into a permanent lifestyle choice if I lived in the Middle East.

The biggest secret in the Middle East? Sex. The one thing those people could not deal with was sex. They obviously don’t have much of it, since they wouldn’t talk about it. Showing a bit more skin might do them some good. The dry air was hot and heavy with sexual frustration, and our temples weren’t the only things that were throbbing. These people obviously only see sex as something you do for reproduction. What is life without romance, or talking about men? Even though I’d like to think of myself as a strong and independent woman, most of my thoughts and choices have involved Big, and I believe every woman has the right to a Big in her life. If they talked about sex more, maybe women could have more of it.

Our time on an incredibly wealthy resort in one part of the Middle East gave us an incredible amount of insight on how the region just needs to borrow a few style tips from us. Just like that girl at the club willing to let you use some of her mascara, women in the United States would gladly share their equality with women in the Middle East. After all, New York City is the temple of all that is fabulous and fashionable—there is always room for them to worship.

*In the movie, Abdul was Samantha’s gay manservant.

  • candice

    Interesting… I think it suits the character whose life revolves around fashion and men. It’s very light and superficial, and shows very well that the character understands little about Arabs and Muslims. And about Abu Dhabians, who love fashion!

  • Alicia

    OMG! I’m loving this soo much!! Great piece, Sara!

  • KG

    Ha! This is great.

    (They actually named the manservant “Abdul”? Were they trying to be funny with that?? Or do they not know what it means?)

  • Diana

    This is clever and witty…I LOVE IT TOOO! Sara you are a genius:

    “The difference between those women and us is that we look fabulous under oppression!”


  • Sara

    thanks guys! :)

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  • grapeshisha

    Fantastic – you got the tone just right with that one. Have linked back on our blog.

  • Drama

    I dont think that is the UAE your talking about. more like Saudi Arabia or something. or you were accompanied by very relegious people.

    You generalized the Middle east. try Lebanon or Syria or Jordan you might find it very diffrent than the Gulf.

  • Victoria

    Ahlann! Bueno Noches! This article was fabulous! I saw SATC2 on Monday and found it refreshing that, for once, the plot had taken a political stance; I was getting majorly bored of seeing just sex, relationships and clothes. After all, there is more to life – and fashion.

    Excellent writing Sara!


  • Rebeca

    Dear Carrie,

    Did you ever think that women might be worth more than fashion and cheap sex? I am a Muslim woman and I wear long loose garments because I believe that no man besides the man who has dedicated his life to me has the right to even glance at my beauty. I hide my perfectly fit body from public eyes because it is too precious for a filthy gaze. And I do all of this while pursuing a PhD at an Ivy League university in the USA. I am afraid that you think that you are somehow going to “liberate” Muslim women by offering useless advice. Our consensus: We have seen your “liberation” and we don’t want it. You think that we are jealous of you!!! Please!!!! We do not settle for less. We refuse to be like raw meat in a butcher’s window in order for men to hear our voices. When we speak with our men, who we love dearly, they look at us in our face and actually hear what we are saying—as opposed to looking at our breast.

    All in all, I found your article very ineffective, offensive, and shallow. I think you have no idea what feminine dignity is and you would do well to take your focus off of your legs and use your brain for once.

    I used to watch Sex and the City, but after seeing that you have no respect and little critical thinking, I will never watch it again.

    Best Wishes,


  • henna

    @ Rebecca, how come you are using words like raw meat. It is really demeaning not just to women but to men all across the world.

    There are different kinds of men as well as women in this world so pls do not generalise, this word looks very offensive to me personally.

  • Maryam

    Dear Sara,

    This article is a perfect example of how close-minded some people are. Thank you for writing this piece so people can actually see the extent of ignorance among celebrities.
    I disagree with your degradation of homosexuals. This includes your comparison of a gay friend to an accessory. For you, who claim to be liberated, and an open-minded person, a gay friend is just a THING!!!! Not a human, but a THING!!!! From your perspective, they are not good for anything, but just to carry them around like an accessory.

    The way you presented women, they are nothing but a doll! And their biggest purpose in life is to please men!!! I would not consider you much of a strong, and independent woman, if at mid-40, the only two interesting things in your life that you found were pleasing a man and fashion. You know who is strong and independent woman? A person who does not put her value on how she looks or what brand she wears.
    Maybe it is a time for you to step outside of your little bubble in Manhattan!! And go to a women shelter in New York!! There you would learn how many women have been beaten by their ALCOHOLIC husband!!! Then, you may reconsider parts of your proposal for FIXING the middle east.

    Last but not least! Please, don’t waste your time try to HELP those who not only didn’t ask for it, but sure enough don’t need it!!!!

    • Fatemeh

      @ Maryam: Was half of your comment directed at Sara, and the other half directed at “Carrie”?

  • Maryam

    @ fatemeh: Yes and No.
    I think Carrie must think this way to write a report under the name of Sara.

    • Fatemeh

      @ Maryam: <_<

  • Dina

    Well Carrie is a fictional character… I never watched Sex and the City, did not like the concept. The “cheap sex” as you say did not look appealing to me at all.

    However your remarks show disrespect for other women’s clothes choices. I do not cover up, I feel I do not have to, I like wearing short dresses or shorts from time to time. I defend myself against extremely sexist and demeaning descriptions of “raw meat”. After all, men are allowed to expose their body from the knees down, do they show “raw meat”? I never heard the reproach. Human flesh is the same for men and women – hateful sayings like women who choose to dress “immodestly” represent “raw meat” and assumptions they will not get respect from men contribute to a culture of hatred against women who dress immodestly not only, but also in Arab or Muslim subcommunities. They give young men a good excuse of molesting, harassing and sometimes raping.

    I am a a woman, and like any uncovered man I deserve respect for me. Not for my clothes. Oddly, the men who seem to not be able to see my personality by the way I dress are those that have been socialized to not respect women who do not cover up.

    Overall, I found the article light-hearted and straight to the point in its sarcasm on a useless, stereotypical tv show and its movie. not liberating at all – but so isn’t your comment, Maryam. I actually find it highly offensive, too.