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United Arab Emirates - Second and third periodic reports of States parties due in 2014 [2014] UNCEDAWSPR 30; CEDAW/C/ARE/2-3 (3 December 2014)


Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention

Second and third periodic reports of States parties due in 2014

United Arab Emirates*

* The present document is being issued without formal editing.

[Date received: 10 July 2014]


Chapter One
The national context
1. Basic information
2. Population
3. Political system
4. Economic and social indicators
5. The United Arab Emirates in international indices
6. The legal and institutional framework for the protection of women
7. Statistics on Emirati women in 2014
8. Position of the United Arab Emirates on reservations to the Convention
Chapter Two
Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
1. Articles 1-3
2. Article 4 — Special measures
3. Article 5 — Social and cultural patterns
4. Article 6 — Traffic in women
5. Article 7 — Political life
6. Article 8 — International representation
7. Article 9 — Acquisition of nationality
8. Article 10 — Education of women
9. Article 11 — The field of employment
10. Article 12 — Healthcare
11. Article 13 — Economic and social benefits
12. Article 14 — Concern with rural women
13. Article 15 — Equality before the law
14. Article 16 — Family relations
Chapter Three
Implementation of the Convention: opportunities and challenges


1. Desiring to fulfil its international obligations, the State of the United Arab Emirates has prepared its second and third periodic reports of the States parties on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The reports monitor the progress achieved in implementing the articles of the Convention and in addressing the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women during the period from the discussion of the first report in 2010 to end-2014.

2. This report was prepared under the general supervision of the General Women’s Union, which represents women. It was prepared using a participatory approach involving representatives of all relevant federal and local government institutions and civil society institutions.

Report preparation methodology:

1. The General Women’s Union formed task teams and groups pursuant to official letters sent to 25 federal and local government institutions and civil society institutions. A total of 38 representatives of such institutions participated in the preparation of the report.

2. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, immediately upon receiving the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, circulated the observations to each entity involved in preparing the present report. Each entity then prepared a report on the articles of the Convention taking into account the concluding observations.

3. A reduced committee comprising representatives of the aforesaid task teams was formed to merge the reports of the concerned entities according to the guidelines for preparing the periodic reports.

4. The task teams approved the report and submitted it to the Department of Human Rights in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for adoption of measures to submit the report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Follow-up mechanisms:

1. The report will be published on the electronic site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the General Women’s Union.

2. The report will be printed and distributed to all state institutions for their use as a work methodology in their ongoing development work.

3 Efforts will be made to establish a database of quantitative and qualitative indicators for monitoring progress in the implementation of the Convention.

Chapter One

The national context

1. Basic information

3. The United Arab Emirates was founded on 2 December 1971 as a federation including seven emirates, namely Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain and Fujairah. The capital of the State is in the city of Abu Dhabi.

4. The United Arab Emirates is located in the eastern portion of the Arabian Peninsula between longitudes 57.10° - 51.35° and latitudes 26.25° - 22.35° approximately. It is bounded by the Arabian Gulf (Islamic Republic of Iran) in the north, by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the west and by the Sultanate of Oman and the Gulf of Oman (Islamic Republic of Iran) in the south and east. The land border with the Sultanate of Oman extends from the Gulf of Oman in the east to Umm al-Zamul in the south.

5. The area of the State totals 71 023.6 km² and includes a number of islands. The area of the territorial sea of the State totals 27 624.9 km².

2. Population

6. The State’s population totalled 8 264 070 at end-2010 according to the last population estimate. Economic factors significantly affect population growth, especially in periods of accelerating booms, as in 2005-2010. The State’s population rose from 2.4 million in 1995 to 4.1 million in 2005 according to the 2005 general population census.

Table 1

Estimated geographical distribution of the population of the United Arab Emirates in 2010


Abu Dhabi
204 108
200 438
404 546
84 245
83 784
168 029
78 818
74 547
153 365
21 600
20 586
42 186
Umm al-Qaiwan
8 671
8 811
17 482
Ras al-Khaimah
49 181
48 348
97 529
32 486
32 374
64 860
Total number of citizens
479 109
468 888
947 997
Total number of non-citizens
5 682 711
1 633 362
7 316 073
Total in the State
6 161 820
2 102 250
8 264 070

Source: National Bureau of Statistics.

3. Political system

7. The Constitution of the United Arab Emirates defines the goals and basic structures of the federation. It states that the federation exercises its sovereignty throughout the territory and territorial waters within the international borders of the member Emirates, while the member Emirates exercise sovereignty in their territories and territorial waters over all matters for which the Federation does not have competence under the Constitution. The people of the federation are one people and are part of the Arab nation. Islam is the official religion of the federation and Arabic is the official language.

8. The Constitution defines the division of powers between the federal and local authorities. Article 120 sets out the legislative and executive powers of the federal authorities, while article 121 defines the legislative functions that are exclusive to the federal authorities. Other functions are carried out by the member emirates. The federal authorities comprise the Supreme Council of the Federation, federal cabinet, Federal National Council and the federal judiciary.

4. Economic and social indicators

9. The United Arab Emirates pursues a liberal economic policy based on free trade and the free flow of capital and services. This policy is intended to develop the national economy, diversify its income sources and achieve balanced economic and social development for the State as a whole. The State’s development policies have enabled it to become a leading country of the world and progress significantly in the area of human development, especially in the last decade. The 2011 Human Development Report published by the United Nations Development Programme ranks the United Arab Emirates thirtieth among the 187 States covered by the report and first among the Arab states. This ranking reflecting the Government’s desire to improve the standard of living and economic and social conditions of individuals.

10. The report shows that the State has achieved real progress according to the gender equality measure of the Human Development Index. This progress stems from quantitative and qualitative changes in education and health. The report also shows that the State enjoys a high standard of living in general, the incidence of poverty and deprivation has fallen to a record low and adult literacy rates have risen. The advances made in health services are clearly reflected in all health indicators. These indicators point for example to declines in the infant and under-5 mortality rates, the percentage of babies with low birth weight and the maternal mortality rate. They also point to increases in number of children over the age of one who have been fully vaccinated against tuberculosis and measles and in the number of physicians per 1 000 of the population. The report states that health care expenditures account for a very high percentage of the State’s GDP compared to the high-income industrial countries.

Table 2

Social and economic development indicators



Average per capita share of GDP (in thousands)
UAE dirhams

US dollars
Labour force (in thousands)

No new data available


Labour force as percentage of total population


Unemployed persons as percentage of total labour force


Overall dependency ratio

Old-age dependency ratio

Child dependency ratio

Population density (per km²)

Rural population as percentage of total population

No new data available
Sex ratio (males per 100 females)

Crude birth rate (per 1 000 of the population)

Total fertility rate

No new data available
Crude death rate (per 1 000 of the population)

Life expectancy at birth
No new data available


Infant mortality rate (per 1 000 births)

Illiteracy rate



Source: National Bureau of Statistics.

5. The United Arab Emirates in international indices

a. Human Development Report: In The Human Development Report for 2013, the United Arab Emirates ranks second in the Arab world and forty-first among 187 countries.

b. Gender Equality Index: The United Arab Emirates ranks first in the Arab world in the Gender Equality Index published by the World Economic Forum in 2013.

c. Happiness and satisfaction index: The United Arab Emirates ranks first in the Arab world and fourteenth in the world (an improvement compared to previous years) in the 2013 report published by Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

d. Rule of Law Index: The United Arab Emirates ranks first in the Arab and Middle East region regarding order and security, criminal justice and absence of corruption in the 2012-2013 report.

e. Corruption Perceptions Index: Transparency International’s general report for 2013 ranks the United Arab Emirates first in the Middle East and North Africa region and twenty-sixth out of 177 countries.

f. Competitiveness Index: The Global Competitiveness Report of 2013-2014, published by the World Economic Forum, ranks the United Arab Emirates third globally in government efficiency, third globally in public trust in politicians, fifth globally in absence of irregular payments and bribes and nineteenth globally overall.

g. The World Competitiveness Yearbook for 2013 (published by the International Institute of Management Development) ranks United Arab Emirates first in the Arab world and eighth globally. The Emirates also received high rankings in the sub-indices of the yearbook, ranking first globally in government efficiency, fourth in economic performance and ninth in business efficiency.

6. The legal and institutional framework for the protection of women

11. Respect and protection of human rights is a primary foundation underpinning the State of the United Arab Emirates. Women enjoy such protection inasmuch as the State has been keen to provide a system for protecting and supporting the rights of women.

12. Concern for women is reflected in the political speeches of Emirati leaders. For example, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum — the President of the State, Prime Minister and Governor of Dubai — has repeatedly affirmed that women are a primary partner in development. A key statement of His Highness in this regard was his comment on the cabinet decision on women serving on the boards of directors of government companies and authorities: “The presence of women on these boards will provide greater balance to the boards’ decisions and plans, inasmuch as women work in these companies and authorities and women are a significant segment of the public that deals with them. They should be represented in decision-making. Women in the United Arab Emirates have strongly proven their effectiveness in various workplaces. Today, we provide them with a new impetus to serve in decision-making positions in all government institutions and bodies.”[1]

13. Similarly, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, stated the following in a speech to the Sixty-ninth Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly: “... Based on our commitment to human rights principles... the Government of United Arab Emirates focuses its efforts on ending gender discrimination. We are therefore looking forward to playing an effective role in this regard in the United Nations to empower women and consolidate gender equality.”[2]

14. Legislation is a key foundation for protecting women. The legislator in the United Arab Emirates has periodically reviewed legislation to ensure that it is consistent with women’s needs and enables them to obtain their rights. New legislative developments are presented below in the present report’s treatment of the implementation of the articles of the Convention.

15. The State has also sought to establish national mechanisms to promote and empower women in federal and local government and civil society institutions. The following institutions promote, empower and protect women in the State:

• Ministry of Social Affairs.

• General Women’s Union (which includes five women’s associations at the State level).

• Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.

• Family Development Foundation.

• Dubai Women’s Establishment.

• Supreme Council for Family Affairs.

• Shelters for women and children (in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras


• Dubai Foundation for Women and Children.

• Businesswomen’s councils in each emirate.

• Emirates Women’s Sports Committee.

• Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy.

• Emirates Association for Human Rights.

7. Statistics on Emirati women in 2014

a. The cabinet includes four female ministers (minister for development and international cooperation, minister for social affairs and two ministers of state). An Emirati woman holds the post of general secretary of the cabinet.

b. Emirati women hold seven (17.5 per cent) of the 40 seats in the Federal National Council and the post of first deputy speaker of the Federal National Council.

c. Emirati women serve in the judiciary and in the Public Prosecutor’s Office. They include two judges in the court of first instance, two judges in the military court, two public prosecutors, 17 assistant public prosecutors, one marriage official and 22 judicial trainers.

d. Women serve in the Diplomatic Corps in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Three have been appointed as ambassadors — one to Sweden, one to Spain and one to the Republic of Montenegro. A woman serves as the consul to China. One woman holds the post of minister plenipotentiary, first-class. Women hold the posts of first secretary (11 women), second secretary (16 women), third secretary (71 women), attaché (47 women) and advisor (three women).

e. Emirati women are have a prominent, effective presence in military and police work. Women may attain up to the rank of brigadier general in the Armed Forces.

f. Twenty-one thousand women are employers. Female business owners account for 10 per cent of the total private sector in the Emirates. They run projects worth 40 billion dirhams. Female business owners constitute 15 per cent of the members of the boards of directors of the chambers of commerce and industry in the State.

g. Women hold 66 per cent of the positions in the Government sector, including 30 per cent of the senior leadership posts involved in decision-making.

h. Women represent 15 per cent of the faculty members at the University of the Emirates.

i. Women hold 60 per cent of the technical jobs in medicine, teaching, pharmacy and nursing. They also serve in the regular Armed Forces, police and customs.

j. Women constitute 71.6 per cent of the students in government universities and 50.1 per cent of the students in private universities and colleges. They constitute 43 per cent and 62 per cent of students studying for master’s degrees and doctorate degrees in private and government universities respectively.

k. The life expectancy of females at birth is 80 years. The rate of maternal mortality due to pregnancy and childbirth was 2.45 per 100 000 live births in 2010. In 2008, 99.9 per cent of births occurred under comprehensive medical supervision.

8. Position of the United Arab Emirates on reservations to the Convention

16. The State of the United Arab Emirates is very keen on providing equal opportunities and fairness to its citizens. It therefore constantly searches for the best international practices to achieve quality of life for all.

17. The State periodically reviews its international obligations, including its obligations under the Convention. It has circulated the Convention and the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to all federal and local government and civil society institutions for inclusion in their plans and operating strategies and to enable them to study the possibility of submitting reservations to avoid conflicts with the Islamic sharia. The lifting or narrowing of reservations to the Convention, which requires harmonizing domestic legislation and practices with the spirit of the Convention, is under study.

Chapter Two

Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

1. Articles 1-3

18. The United Arab Emirates’ ascension to the Convention affirms its desire to integrate women in sustainable development and surmount difficulties facing women’s participation in various fields. Accordingly, the Emirati legislature has provided for the rights of citizens and non-nationals in national legislation without gender discrimination. It also periodically updates legislation consistent with new developments.

19. The United Arab Emirates’ reservation to article 2 (f) of the Convention is not intended to be a reservation to the elimination of discrimination. Rather, the reservation concerns a few issues that deviate from social customs, traditions and practices and violate the immutable provisions of the Islamic sharia. Nonetheless, as explained below, the State endeavours assiduously to change any cultural patterns that discriminate against women in society.

20. The State is keen to strengthen awareness of the Convention. During 2011, a training workshop in women’s rights was held for assistant judges and members of the Public Prosecutor’s Office based on the training plan of the International Cooperation Department and the Judicial Department’s Human Rights Office. The workshop covered 1) a summary of the Convention and the obligations arising from it, and 2) the extent to which domestic laws are consistent with the Convention.

21. Another training workshop was held concerning the UAE’s international obligations. It reviewed the conventions ratified by the United Arab Emirates, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It examined the United Arab Emirates’ obligations arising from its ratification of these conventions.

2. Article 4 — Special measures

22. Article 4 of the Convention provides for the adoption of temporary special measures to achieve gender equality. The United Arab Emirates has been keen on using this prerogative to affirm and strengthen the participation of women and equal opportunities for them to hold leadership positions. Since submitting its initial report, the Government has adopted a series of measures to strengthen women’s participation in various sectors in the implementation of the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. These measures include the following:

a. Issuance of Cabinet Decision 319/15F/22 of 2012 in Session No. 15 Promoting Women’s Participation on the Boards of Directors of Federal Authorities, Companies and Institutions.

b. Boosting of the percentage of women in several sectors, e.g., the appointment of five women to the Federal National Council, the appointment of a woman as first deputy speaker of the Federal National Council during the current parliamentary session to support of the political participation of women after only one woman won in elections, and the appointment of a woman to serve as permanent representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations in 2013.

c. The Government’s conduct of a periodic review of legislation and study of the needs of working women. For this purpose, an advisory committee is formed in the Federal Human Resources Authority to study women’s needs. The Human Resources Law was amended under Federal Decree-Law No. 9 of 2011, which focuses on the types of full-time, part-time and temporary full-time employment available to women and men alike.

3. Article 5 — Social and cultural patterns

23. Any observer of social and economic developments in the United Arab Emirates will appreciate the openness and harmony that prevails in society. The Emirati Government and people are proud of their national identity and cultural legacy. They are also open to the cultures of the world through the diversity of foreign nationals residing in the State.

24. Women residing in the State possess all the rights and duties possessed by men, which can be seen clearly in daily life.

25. In this regard, civil society institutions have developed and implemented programmes to raise societal awareness of the role and rights of women, empower women in society and change stereotypical roles of men and women according to socially acceptable concepts. These programmes provide women with opportunities to participate in development. They enhance positive, constructive personal skills concerning the family and relationships and promote the sharing of roles and responsibilities. Following are examples of such programmes:

a. The Family Development Foundation launched a series of programmes to promote a sound understanding of motherhood as an important social function. Both fathers and mothers are targeted in the “Parental Relationship Programme” and “Childhood and Adolescence Programme.” These programmes instil a sense of joint responsibility in men and women for rearing and nurturing their children. Another programme was launched in 2010 to promote men’s role in the family by giving them positive, constructive personal skills to better understand themselves and others in order to create a healthy, stable family. As of 2013, the programme has targeted 2783 men. Three other programmes were also launched: “Enrichment of Marital Life,” “What Is Marriage” and “License for Married Life.” They present topics that clarify responsibilities and roles and promote equal sharing of household responsibilities and gender equality between husbands and wives in respect of status and responsibilities.

b. The various Emirati media produce radio and television programmes and directed media messages designed to eliminate stereotypes about roles, functions, responsibilities, role sharing in the family and gender equality. Many programmes and media materials are produced and presented throughout the year to counter discrimination against women. They host top female academicians, journalists and specialists who discuss gender equality, the importance of strengthening the presence of women, domestic violence and changing erroneous stereotypes of women that pigeonhole them in specific roles in society.

c. The newspapers also publish many reports on the status and achievements of women in the Emirates. These reports constantly affirm the importance of support for women and the empowerment of women in society. Domestic newspapers focus almost daily on women’s activities of all types and at all levels, particularly those that aim to eliminate discrimination against women.

d. The Ministry of Education published a national curriculum for public and private education in the United Arab Emirates in January 2013. The curriculum is designed to strengthen national identity, values and morals among students. It also entrenches the individual’s role in building a cohesive, stable family and promotes acceptance of cultural pluralism in society in a spirit of tolerance and acceptance of others on the basis of the equality. The ministry also periodically reviews curricula based on responses to a questionnaire on its website that allows interested persons to air their views on the curricula.

e. The Ministry of Culture and Community Development held a Conference on Community Cultural Values in 2011 to highlight community values, instil them in youth and enhance the ability of young people to communicate and interact culturally with other peoples.

4. Article 6 — Traffic in women

26. Article 6 of the Convention urges the States Parties to take appropriate measures to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women. The United Arab Emirates attaches extreme importance to this matter by legislating laws that prohibit the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women in the State and impose deterrent penalties on offenders that commit violence against women and exploit children in prostitution. The United Arab Emirates has been keen to adopt the recommendations and concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The State’s most salient achievements in this regard include the following:

1. Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 on Combating Human Trafficking.

Articles 2-8 of the law mandate punishment of traffickers, particularly if the victim is a child or a woman. Several articles of the law were amended in 2012 to provide greater protection and guarantees for human trafficking victims.

2. The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking has developed a four-pronged strategy to combat human trafficking offenses based on protection and prevention, prosecution and punishment, protection of victims and the strengthening of international cooperation.

3. The State has called upon the special rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children [to continue their efforts]. In addition, bilateral agreements have been concluded with a number of states. For example, memoranda of understanding were concluded with the Republic of Armenia in 2009, Republic of Azerbaijan 2011 and Australia in 2013 with a view toward harmonizing views on combating human trafficking.

4. The State has established mechanisms for handing over human trafficking suspects to the competent courts in the State. In previous years, the courts have imposed strict penalties on persons convicted of human trafficking offenses, ranging from imprisonment of at least one year to life imprisonment and a fine. Law enforcement authorities make efforts to detect human trafficking offenses, arrest suspects and hand them over to the justice system for prosecution.

5. The concerned institutions have spread awareness about combating human trafficking offenses. The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking organized a media campaign in late 2010 and early 2011 to combat human trafficking at Abu Dhabi International Airport and al-‘Ayn International Airport. The campaign was extended to cover the airports in Dubai during 2013. During 2011, the committee developed its own website ( as a primary source of information, data and laws relating to human trafficking offenses and as a means for individuals in society to communicate directly with the committee.

6. Provision of protection and support to human trafficking victims. Effective, fair, free care and protection programmes are provided for victims. Government shelters provide: psychological, social, health, legal and rehabilitation services; hotlines for reporting abuse; family counselling programmes; follow-up services with all government and nongovernment institutions, embassies and consulates throughout the State; follow-up services to ensure victims return to their countries safely in coordination and partnership with international organizations and civil society organizations in the victim’s country; appropriate material support; and educational and recreational programmes and activities to enable victims to master knowledge and skills for creating a decent life and better future for themselves. There are now five shelters in the State. They are located in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah.

7. The concerned authorities are very much concerned with statistics and indicators. The National Bureau of Statistics, in cooperation with other statistical bureaus in the Gulf countries, is currently studying the creation of a consolidated Gulf statistical system for tabulating, analysing and constructing indicators of violence against women. In addition, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children is currently conducting a study on violence against women.

8. In implementation of the Committee’s recommendations for facilitating women’s fair access to remedies, the Judicial Department in Abu Dhabi has established the Office of the Family Law Prosecutor. The office has jurisdiction to investigate and dispose of juvenile offenses and criminal offenses occurring within a single family. It is also authorized to provide opinions in cases concerning families and the welfare of minors before the various courts in the instances established by law. The Judicial Department also provides attorney services and covers expert fees for persons of insufficient means.

9. The Ministry of Interior has adopted a number of measures to protect and assist domestic and support workers, including efforts to promulgate a special law that regulates the relationship of domestic workers with sponsors and labour-importing brokerage offices. The cabinet approved the law in its Decision No. 1/1F/1 of 2012. In addition, a uniform contract regulating the employee-employer relationship and stipulating the employer’s responsibility for providing health insurance has been established. Specialized offices have been established in the dispute divisions in the Nationality and Residence Affairs Sector to receive labourers’ complaints. The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children takes in female domestic labourers who are subjected to any type of abuse by any household member. Such cases are classified as domestic violence, and all care and protection services are provided to the victims.

5. Article 7 — Political life

27. The United Arab Emirates is keen to observe the best practices in regulating and coordinating the relationship between the Government and citizens. It has established channels for participation and constructive dialogue to ensure citizens’ participation in proposing and amending policies and legislation that guarantee their rights in various domains.

28. Women continued to participate in political life in the State in the fifteenth legislative term (2011-2015), accounting for seven of the 40 members of the Federal National Council. In addition, a woman holds the post of first deputy speaker of the council.

29. The Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs carries out a number of awareness-raising activities and initiatives to promote a culture of political participation in society in general and to develop Emirati women’s political awareness in particular to enable them to participate effectively in diverse areas of national action. To this end, it has concluded cooperation agreements and signed memoranda of understanding with a number of concerned national institutions — e.g., the University of the Emirates, Ministry of Education, Federal National Council and women’s organizations — with a view toward holding joint awareness-raising activities, including the following by way of example:

• An activity entitled “Rights and Duties of Women in the Federation”

(28 November 2013).

• A forum on “Building Political Awareness among University Students”

(28 November 2013).

• A lecture for female students in the Higher Colleges of Technology in Fujairah on 15 May 2013.

• A lecture for female students of al-Wasl School in Dubai on 20 March 2013.

30. The Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs also published a two-volume book entitled the Culture of Political Participation — Consolidation and Empowerment (in Arabic), which covers the main activities of the Ministry’s Political Development Department in 2012. The first volume treats electronic publications on empowerment, which have been disseminated to broad segments society. The second volume treats the Forum for Building Political Awareness among University Students.

31. The 42-member Consultative Council of the emirate of Sharjah has seven female members. Sharjah’s 17-member municipal council has two female members.

6. Article 8 — International representation

32. The United Arab Emirates provides for the participation of women in decision-making. Government institutions and organizations concerned with women endeavour to build the capacities of women to enable them to hold various leadership posts.

33. The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, for example, cooperates with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Programme for Leadership Development in providing the “UAE Women Leadership Programme” to strengthen the leadership capacities of the best of Emirati female cadres.

34. Emirati women have thus become qualified to represent the Government abroad in a number of regional and international organizations, including in the following positions:

• Member, Executive Board of the Arab Women Organization.

• Chairwoman, Arab Women Organization.

• Permanent Representative of the Government to the United Nations in New York.

• Member, Executive Committee for Women’s Sports in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.

• Representative of the State as ambassadors to a number of states and as staff members in several UAE embassies abroad.

• Representative the State at regional, Arab and international conferences as official spokespersons and conference participants.

7. Article 9 — Acquisition of nationality

35. Article 9 of the Convention calls on the States Parties to grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality, including the granting of women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children.

36. The United Arab Emirates has been keen to adopt the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Article 8 of the United Arab Emirates Constitution states that the citizens of the United Arab Emirates shall have a single nationality specified by law and shall enjoy the protection of the federal government while abroad in accordance with internationally recognized principles.”

37. Federal Law No. 17 of 1972, amended by Law No. 10 of 1975 and amendments thereto, concerns nationality, residence and passports. It regulates all matters relating to the acquisition and retention or forfeiture of nationality. It grants women the right to acquire and retain nationality according to certain requirements. A woman’s nationality is not forfeited due to marriage to a non-citizen except by her request. Under Article 14 of the aforesaid law, “A woman who is a national ex lege or by naturalization and who marries a person holding foreign nationality shall retain her nationality and shall not lose it unless she has taken her husband’s nationality.”

38. Under Article 17, paragraph 2 of the aforesaid law, “A female citizen ex lege who acquired the nationality of her foreign husband who then dies or abandons or divorces her may regain her nationality provided she renounces the nationality of her husband. Her children from that husband may apply to acquire the nationality of

the State if their ordinary residence is in the State and they have expressed their desire to renounce the nationality of their father.”

39. On 2 December 2011, His Highness the President of the State issued royal directives in a decree requiring the granting of UAE citizenship to the children of female citizens married to foreigners according to the following requirements and rules:

• The children of female citizens are to be treated as original citizens without discrimination in respect of education, health and employment.

• Such children are entitled to apply to acquire nationality upon reaching the age of 18 years.

40. Ministry of Interior statistics indicate that 2047 children of female citizens have been granted UAE nationality since the decree was issued. The decree also covers the children of female citizens in cases where the children’s filiation to their fathers has not been demonstrated and in cases of children of unknown parentage. National legislation, particularly the UAE Constitution, grants freedom of movement to individuals and prohibits any form of restriction on such movement. Under the law, possession of a passport is an individual right, and a passport may be confiscated solely pursuant to a judicial ruling.

8. Article 10 — Education of women

41. The United Arab Emirates is especially concerned with education and human resource development without gender discrimination. It works assiduously to provide all possibilities and resources for developing the educational environment qualitatively and quantitatively. The State adopts educational curricula collaboratively through brainstorming sessions. The Vice President of the State and Prime Minister engage representatives from the field of education — including teachers, physicians, school principals, students and parents — in the ministerial conclaves which the cabinet holds to discuss new ideas in education and health.

42. The State attaches importance to providing universal education. In 2012, the cabinet approved a draft law making education compulsory at all levels for all children in the State, including citizens and non-nationals, up to the age of 18.

Non-nationals obtain full or partial support for the education of their children through benefits received as employees in the public or private sector in the State. Educational projects receive top priority among social development projects, with 9.8 billion dirhams being allocated for general, university and higher education

(21 per cent of the total federal general government budget for FY 2014).

43. Federal and local government and private institutions participate in supervising education in the State. Generally, the Ministry of Education, Abu Dhabi Education Council and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority develop educational curricula according to the United Arab Emirates’ policy. That policy is based on the needs of Emirati society. Under this policy, which is designed to fulfil the ambitions of all segments of society, male and female students at all three educational levels are equal. The capacities of males and females in each age group are taken into account at each level. Male and female students at a given level are evaluated according to uniform evaluation and measurement tools that are applied to all students at the concerned educational level regardless of sex.

44. The curricula for the three types of educational content — knowledge, values and skills — are applied equally to both sexes, as are the various activities, learning strategies, various means and evaluation tools. For example, all twelfth-grade students who study the Ministry of Education’s curriculum are required to take an examination that is uniform at the State level and entails the same requirements, time limits, subjects, classroom environment, proctoring and evaluation/grading, with no difference whatsoever between the two sexes.

Table 3

Distribution of students according to sex and educational level


64 159
67 210
69 671

60 816
62 557
65 332

124 975
129 767
135 003
Cycle 1 — grades 1-5
168 505
171 412
186 250

159 156
164 036
176 424

327 661
335 448
362 674
Cycle 2 — grades 6-9
108 693
110 345
113 413

103 574
105 254
107 611

212 267
215 599
221 024
60 435
63 842
66 371

63 717
66 125
68 764

124 152
129 967
135 135
Religious education


Technical education
2 540
3 044
3 746

1 014

2 718
3 559
4 760

Source: National Bureau of Statistics.

45. The Ministry of Education equips school buildings for boys and girls according to specific specifications and standards applicable to classrooms, learning resource rooms, facilities and fences that protect the privacy of buildings. The ministry maintains school buildings according to the laws in effect. It contracts services to companies that apply and comply with health, security and safety requirements and standards. Schools for girls are equipped to provide for their needs and privacy.

46. In academic year 2011-12, there were 1 185 government and private schools with a student population of 859 224 male and female students at all academic levels. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there were 270 918 students in public education at all levels in 2011-12, 52.2 per cent of whom were females. The State provides space for expatriate communities to construct schools.

47. Higher educational opportunities are available for all non-nationals in government and private universities. The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research effectively manages operations for sending students abroad for study to meet the development requirements of society. It regulates the activity of higher education institutions, ensures the quality of educational outputs and promotes scientific research and innovation according to high competitive standards.

9. Article 11 — The field of employment

48. The State of the United Arab Emirates ensures that women are strategic partners in development. It works assiduously to create an employment environment that attracts women by enabling them to reconcile their family and employment responsibilities. The flexibility provided by human resource laws regulating labour relations in various institutions have boosted women’s labour force participation rate.

49. The State’s guarantee of this right is affirmed in the Minister for Labour’s Decision No. 3 of 2009 on work permits for persons sponsored by their relatives. The decision entitles the wife and daughter of a person granted legal residence in the country to apply for jobs that are advertised and to obtain work permits based on the sponsorship of their relatives (husband/father).

50. Regarding the Committee’s observation that the principle of equal pay for work of equal value does not exist, we affirm to the Committee, as we stated in the previous report, that Emirati legislation guarantees the right to equal remuneration. Under article 32 of the Labour Law, “A working women shall be granted a wage comparable to that of a man if she does the same work.” The law guarantees gender equality in respect of wages, bonuses, allowances and severance pay. It also grants women several preferential advantages consisting of the right to receive fully paid leave in the circumstances and cases that require her to perform her other social duties concerning pregnancy and reproduction.

51. In this regard, we point to the Ministry of Labour’s initiative to establish a Wage Protection Office under Cabinet Decision No. 688 of 2008. That decision concerns the implementation of the ministry’s plan to monitor protection of wages and work hours, the implementation of a plan to transfer labourers’ wages through banks and other financial institutions and communication with labourers to receive complaints on the non-payment of wages in full or in part. In this regard, we affirm to the honourable Committee — based on records of the Wage Protection Office, labour inspection reports and reports of the Labour Dispute Resolution Department and labour welfare offices — that no complaints concerning wage inequality or discrimination were observed or recorded; all complaints received concerned failure to pay wages on time, failure to pay overtime wages or incorrect wage calculations.

52. Under Federal Decree-Law No. 11 of 2008 on Human Resources in the Federal Government, wages are set in all state institutions according to fixed rules based on the application of systems for the analysis and evaluation of functions. This is reflected in Federal Law No. 9 of 2011 on Human Resources, article 20, which stipulates: “All ministries shall have a uniform schedule of grades and salaries issued by decision of the Cabinet based on the Authority’s recommendation according to a series of rules, which shall not include whether the holder of the position is male or female, but shall rather pertain entirely to the job functions themselves, the qualifications required to fill the job and the degree of responsibility borne by the employee regardless of gender.

53. Regarding the Committee’s observations about freedom of movement, UAE labour policies and legislation guarantee women freedom of movement and affirm the State’s commitment to protection of the rights of labourers, who are viewed as partners in development. This is achieved through laws and policies that regulate the employment of labourers, protect labourers’ rights and ensure an appropriate work environment for them. The UAE has made major strides in affirming guarantees and rights for foreign workers in national legislation based on the highest international standards to ensure a decent living for such workers and their family members within a tolerant society. This is reflected in the social, economic cultural, health and educational situation of foreign workers and their family members in the Emirates, which is consistent with many provisions of the Convention. The concept of migration for settlement mentioned in [connection with the] Convention does not apply to the UAE’s policy on temporary labourers who do not intend to settle permanently in the State, inasmuch as the presence of temporary labourers in the State at certain times is linked to the implementation of specific projects.

54. The State has not yet ratified International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 87 on freedom of association and protection of the right to organize and ILO Convention 98 on the right to organize and collective bargaining. It has not done so for reasons pertaining to the foreign labour importation requirements which it is developing and for reasons pertaining to its demographic situation. The residency of foreigners in the State for employment purposes is temporary and linked to employment contracts. In the large majority of cases, residency does not exceed a few years, after which the concerned workers return to their home countries. Also, non-nationals comprise 80 per cent of the population of the State. These factors are peculiar to the UAE labour market, requiring the careful devising of an innovative model formula for worker representation and collective bargaining terms. The Government continues to examine available alternatives. We hope to soon arrive at appropriate formulae. The Labour Law and relevant national legislation provide broad protection to workers and guarantee their rights. The State has ratified bilateral agreements with countries that send workers. These agreements provide for the protection of the rights of such workers throughout the contractual work cycle, including recruitment, preparation for travel to the State, temporary residence and preparation for returning to and reintegrating into their societies.

55. As part of its efforts to develop legislation guaranteeing freedom to organize, the State promulgated Federal Law No. 2 of 2008 on Non-Governmental Public-Welfare Associations and Organizations. This law permits all groups in society to form public-welfare associations to express their views in a legal, regulated manner that does not conflict with the public interest. Under this law, the State guarantees all workers in the territory of the State the right to establish professional associations to represent them, with membership open to all citizens and

non-national residents of the State.

56. Regarding collective bargaining, the Labour Law, Chapter 9, regulates the right to collective bargaining and collective bargaining mechanisms in collective labour disputes. The law stipulates the formation of labour reconciliation committees in each labour department. The committees’ primary function is to reconcile workers and employers in collective labour disputes. Workers exercise their right to collectively bargain with employers through these committees. Recently, a court was established in the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department with jurisdiction to examine disputes involving support service workers.

57. In addition, the Ministry of Labour has established nine labour welfare offices in the worker cities, which are the areas of the highest concentration of foreign workers in the State. These offices facilitate communication between the three factors of production and reconcile between workers and employers, especially workers who wish to collectively bargain with employers concerning a problem. The labour welfare offices play a conciliatory role in mediating between employers and workers to resolve collective labour disputes. If the two parties cannot agree to a resolution, a complaint is referred to the judiciary for a decision. The Ministry of Labour conducts field visits to various worksites to ascertain that enterprises comply with occupational health and safety requirements. It conducted 135 297 such visits in 2013.

58. Generally, the State does not impose any prohibition on associations or unions that represent workers. Federal Law No. 2 of 2008 on Non-Governmental Public-Welfare Associations and Organizations entitles all segments of the Emirati population to form representative associations to express their views in a legal, regulated manner that does not conflict with the national interest. The law defines a public-welfare association as any group with a permanent organization that has at least 20 founding members. The minister may allow an exception allowing for an association that has only five members who are founders.

59. Under the aforesaid law, the State guarantees all workers in its territory the right to establish professional associations to represent them. Membership in such associations is open to all citizens and non-national residents. The law grants the founders of any such association the freedom to establish the association’s bylaws, membership requirements, membership types, membership admission and dismissal procedures, members’ rights and duties, method for forming the board of directors, the board’s authorities and operating method, the association’s resources and ways for using them, the method for monitoring expenditures, and the requirements and rules for the voluntary dissolution of the association and disposal of its funds.

60. Regarding employment in the Government sector, in 2010, the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources announced the formation of a Committee for Women Working in the Federal Government. The committee prepares studies and surveys with a view toward supporting and providing for the needs of women who work in the federal government. The committee studies regulations and legislation concerning women’s affairs. It proposes initiatives and recommendations for supporting working women, spreads institutional awareness of the importance of the role of women and supports and promotes the establishment of women’s committees for female workers in government authorities and enterprises. In addition, government enterprises provide crèches at 38 worksites.

61. Regarding raising women’s awareness of their rights and duties, the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Guidance Department spreads awareness of the Labour Law and decrees implementing it. It provides guidance to workers and employers concerning the ministry’s procedures and policies. It also provides training courses for female workers in the languages which they speak, particularly in low-skilled jobs and in sectors with a large number of female workers.

62. The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources published a Code of Professional Behaviour and Civil-Service Ethics. The cabinet adopted the code in Cabinet Decision no. 15 of 2010 with a view toward creating an institutional culture that supports the professional values of government employees, develops a sense of responsibility and promotes adherence to high morals in dealing with subordinates, colleagues and the public. This code applies to all civil servants in the State. The aforesaid authority held a web-based compulsory programme providing training in the goals, values and concepts covered by the code. All civil service employees were required to register for the course, complete it and pass a final examination by 1 November 2012. The aforesaid decision, paragraph 6, requires civil servants to respect the rights of their superiors and colleagues at work at all times in an atmosphere free of discrimination, harassment, violence and obscene or indecent language.

63. The Ministry of Labour facilitates women’s participation in small enterprises. It exempts youth enterprises and medium enterprises from certain fees and bank guarantee requirements in cooperation with local governments to promote the development of such enterprises. It conducted 371 inspection visits to monitor small and medium enterprises. In addition, a number of local decrees and laws regulate support for youth, small and medium enterprises to promote their sustainable development and the inventory of such enterprises according to emirate.

10. Article 12 — Healthcare

64. The World Health Organization ranks the United Arab Emirates twenty-seventh globally in health system performance. The Emirati Ministry of Health strives to ensure that government and private hospitals, primary health-care centres, clinics and mother and child units and centres in the State provide advanced health services to all citizens, non-nationals and visitors. The local authorities — e.g., the Abu Dhabi Health Authority, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Sihhah) and Dubai Health Authority — regulate the activity of the medical centres and supervise the health services which they provide. In most cases, government hospitals provide treatment to citizens of the State free of charge and to foreigners possessing health cards at low prices. All non-nationals, including support workers (domestic workers), may participate in one of the health insurance systems, which offer various tiers and benefits. The State requires all domestic workers to obtain a health card authorizing them to obtain services in government hospitals. The draft law regulating the employment of support workers, which is in the final stages of approval by the concerned legislative authorities, requires employers of domestic workers to provide health care and the necessary treatment to female domestic workers in the event of illness.

65. Generally, economic and social changes in the United Arab Emirates have led to an improvement in the health of individuals, including women. There is no difference in the health services provided to men and women. There are programmes that promote the health of women throughout their lives based on the National Strategy for Motherhood and Childhood and the Health of Women and Children. The strategy seeks to exceed international indices of women’s health through health programmes and projects that promote women’s health and services for mothers and children. The Ministry of Health Provides such services throughout the State to female citizens and non-national’s by the in collaboration with the health authorities of the Abu Dhabi and Dubai emirates, the medical services of the Armed Forces and oil companies, private sector health institutions and a number of government and non-governmental institutions, including the General Women’s Union, Family Development Foundation, women’s associations and several civil society organizations. The State is committed to strengthening the position of woman. Its Constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women.

66. The State recorded the following mother and child health indicators, which are comparable to those of the advanced countries:

1. Ninety-nine per cent of births occur in hospitals under comprehensive medical care.

2. Fifty hospitals provide obstetric services.

3. Life expectancy at birth for female citizens in 2010 totalled 80 years.

4. Infant mortality fell from 7.68 per thousand live births in 2000 to 6.43 in 2010.

5. The maternal mortality rate associated with pregnancy and childbirth was 2.45 per 100 000 live births in 2010.

6. The new-born mortality rate was 4.92 per 1000 live births in 2008.

7. The infant mortality rate fell by 44 per cent from 11.4 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 6.4 in 2011.

8. The under-five mortality rate fell by 63 per cent from 14.05 per thousand live births in 1991 to 8.6 per thousand in 2010.

9. Only three cases of maternal mortality due to pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum complications were recorded in 2010.

10. The rate of underweight children totalled 9 per cent in 2009.

67. The FY 2014 health sector budget, which totalled 3.7 billion dirhams or 8 per cent of the total federal general government budget for that year, funded the provision of the highest level of health care services to citizens and non-nationals and boosted the health care sector’s global competitiveness. Government institutions work to provide a range of treatment and prophylactic services to women, including the following:

1. A premarital examination and genetic counselling programme.

2. Motherhood care, including care and monitoring of mothers during pregnancy, early detection of risk factors during pregnancy and postpartum care for mothers

3. Childhood care provided by a consolidated programme for all children without gender discrimination, including care for children below the age of five and a national inoculation programme.

4. Nutrition Programme; Mother-and-Child-Friendly-Hospital Programme, which prepares and implements the policy on nutrition for infants and young children and nutrition for mothers during pregnancy and lactation; Mother-and-Child-Friendly-Hospital Initiative; and the United Arab Emirates Code of the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

5. National Programme for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer. Since being established in 1996, the programme has provided the following services to women: breast cancer prevention awareness; training in self-examination skills; publication and distribution of booklets, brochures and posters; early screening of women from the age of 40 by notifying them to undergo a clinical examination each year and mammogram every two years; analysis of cases; and counselling of women under the age of 40 years with high cancer-risk factors. Under the programme,

122 251 mammograms were performed, 119 000 women were educated and trained in breast self-examination, 1 450 physicians and 1 830 nurses were trained in the implementation of the programme and 41 campaigns to raise women’s awareness were conducted at end-2013. A database containing data and information on the groups of women examined was established. The disease detection rate was 5.7 per thousand women examined. Two booklets on the programme’s results and achievements have been published in English. Three published reports covering 1999-2006, 2007-2010 and 2011-2012 show a disease detection rate per

1000 women examined of 6.3, 5.4 and 7.0 respectively.

68. The State is also concerned with the health of adolescents, as adolescence is a key human development stage involving rapid physical growth and development requiring health and psychological support and boosted nutrition. The Ministry of Health has developed an adolescent care programme to promote the health of male and female adolescents and youth and to meet their health and psychological needs. In addition, the academic curricula scientifically treats reproductive health and sex education, including, for example, a ninth-grade textbook that is part of the international Harcourt series.

69. The State supports the provision of qualified workers to the health sector by providing higher education opportunities in specialties that serve this vital sector. Emirati women have benefited immensely from the many educational opportunities provided by the State. A high percentage of women study medicine and health at the medical schools in the Emirates, including the University of the Emirates, Higher Colleges of Technology, Dubai Medical College for Women, Gulf Medical University, Ras al-Khaymah Medical & Health Sciences University, University of Sharjah and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland-Dubai. In 2011, females constituted a high percentage of the students studying at Ras al-Khaymah College of Nursing (80.76 per cent), University of Sharjah/College of Health Sciences/Department of Nursing (86.7 per cent), School of Nursing (80 per cent) and Fatima College of Health Sciences (98.2 per cent).

70. Civil society organizations play a role in strengthening health awareness among different segments of society. In particular, women’s organizations make many efforts to promote women’s health according to international standards, for example, in the area of meeting new health challenges posed by non-infectious diseases. In this regard, civil society associations collaborate with the Ministry of Health and the health authorities in implementing the State’s strategy for combating non-infectious diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and the risk factors that cause them, e.g., poor nutrition, physical inactivity, use of tobacco and stress. In addition, campaigns are carried out to raise women’s awareness of various ways to protect themselves against chronic diseases and various forms of cancer.

11. Article 13 — Economic and social benefits

71. Providing a decent quality of life to citizens is one of the foundations of the Emirates Vision 2021. Accordingly, the State acts through the concerned institutions to provide for the social and economic welfare of all. In 2011, the Ministry of Social Affairs adopted measures to implement the decisions of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the State, to increase social assistance by 20 per cent for the nine groups that receive subsidies from the Ministry of Social Affairs. These groups include the elderly (with family or alone), widows, orphans, abandoned women and divorcees over the age of 35, persons with physical or health disabilities, families of prison inmates and handicapped persons. The increase covers 31,700 families. The State constantly reviews social security to ensure that it meets quality-of-life requirements based on citizens’ economic conditions. The aforesaid increase is the third increase granted to persons eligible to receive social assistance since His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the State, assumed office.

72. The State works to provide housing to its citizens without discrimination, particularly special groups (widows, divorcees and the like) to ensure a decent life for them. A committee was formed to monitor the implementation of the housing initiatives of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the State. One such initiative involved the allocation of 173 housing units in October 2012 to widows and divorcees among 703 citizens throughout the State — both male and female — who submitted housing applications. As stated in the State’s initial report, there are no impediments to women’s obtainment of loans and credit facilities on a par with men, and women are not subject to special requirements, such as the need to obtain a guarantee.

73. Regarding the provision of opportunities for recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life, the State is concerned with matters that are conducive to providing a holistic lifestyle to nationals and non-nationals by promoting cultural programmes and pioneering initiatives that enhance social cohesion and ties with different cultures. The concerned governmental and civil-society institutions have organized many recreational, athletic and cultural activities for various groups and émigré communities without gender discrimination.

74. The General Youth and Sports Authority is a national machinery that issues permits to private athletic organizations and monitors their activity. The authority seeks to create an environment that encourages females to engage in sports, establishing the Women’s Sports Unit for this purpose. The unit implements athletic plans, programmes and activities for women. In addition, the Emirates Women’s Sports Committee and Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy work to overcome the difficulties of women participating in sports and to qualify women technical cadres and athletes to participate in various domestic, regional and international athletic competitions.

75. Generally, physical and sports education is an inseparable part of school activity in which females’ participation in various athletic venues. Women participate in decision-making on sports in the United Arab Emirates through their presence on the boards of directors of the sports federations. In 2013, 2272 women were registered with the sports authorities.

76. Regarding the economic empowerment of women, the State acts through government and civil society institutions to support the participation of women in the economy, particularly in entrepreneurship. These institutions qualify and train women. They grant them loans to engage in commercial activity through the financing funds established for this purpose. In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs, women’s organizations and the businesswomen councils encourage producing women and support their small and medium enterprises by providing marketing opportunities for them, acting to boost their participation in various trade fairs and educating them about savings.

77. In the first half of 2013, Emirati female business owners exceeded 21,000, up 58 per cent from 2012 and 100 per cent from 2011. Female business owners constitute 10 per cent of the Emirati private sector and 15 per cent of the members of the boards of directors of the chambers of commerce and industry in the State, up 13 per cent from 2012. Businesswomen run projects worth 40 billion dirhams, and this figure is expected to reach 50 billion dirhams in the next two years.

12. Article 14 — Concern with rural women

78. The United Arab Emirates has carefully considered the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The services cabinet — in a meeting in April 2012 chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mansur bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Presidential Affairs — discussed a proposal submitted by the Ministry of Public Works to update the Comprehensive National Plan to Develop Federal Buildings and Remote Areas in the Northern Emirates till 2030. The services cabinet also discussed ways to meet needs of the various regions and areas with a view toward enhancing the prosperity and quality of citizens’ lives, especially in remote areas, based on cooperation, coordination and integration with local governments to evaluate urban life in remote areas.

79. The Emirates Vision 2021 focuses on providing a well-developed infrastructure to strengthen the economic environment in order to build a highly productive knowledge economy. All concerned government institutions are working to implement this vision. In 2013, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing started developing remote areas, including Tawyin in Fujairah, Kadra in Ras al-Khaymah, Dhayd and Mudam in Sharjah and Hatta in Dubai as well as new cities.

80. Women’s organizations and social development centres subordinate to the Ministry of Social Affairs empower women by providing training and development opportunities in their branches in remote areas. For example, the General Women’s Union has launched a project to economically empower women living in remote areas in the emirates of Ras al-Khaymah, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ajman and Fujairah. It also organizes trade fairs where producing families market their products.

81. The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health provide equal services to non-nationals in remote areas by building schools and health centres. In addition, many awareness-raising programmes target women in remote areas.

13. Article 15 — Equality before the law

82. National legislation guarantees equal rights to men and women in respect of legal capacity, especially regarding the conclusion of contracts. Article 18 of Federal Law No. 18 of 1993 concerning commercial transactions stipulates that

“(1) Any person who has attained 21 calendar years of age and is free of any legal impediment shall be competent to engage in commerce;” and “(2) Nevertheless, a minor, whether under guardianship or custodianship, may, upon attaining the age of 18 calendar years, engage in commerce, provided the court grants absolute or restricted permission to do so.”

83. In deference to the multiplicity of nationalities of residents in the State, the aforesaid commercial transactions law, article 21, regulates the competence of a foreign woman, stating, “The competence of a married woman to engage in commerce shall be regulated by the law of the State of which she is a national.”

84. The General Women’s Union has prepared a study entitled “Enlightened Features of the United Arab Emirates Judiciary.” The study examines the extent to which judicial judgments and decisions entrench women’s human rights. It reviews several judgments in the areas of personal status, civil rights and social rights and concludes that the judgments demonstrate the Emirati judiciary’s concern with women’s rights regardless of nationality.

85. Organizations in the UAE that are concerned with women’s affairs, particularly the General Women’s Union, offer training programmes, seminars and workshops to shed light on women’s rights. The awareness-raising role played by these organizations has possibly impacted women, enabling them to resort to the judicial authorities to realize and protect their gains.

86. There is no legislative impediment restricting the freedom of movement of women inside the State or abroad. The Constitution guarantees individuals freedom of movement. Under the law, possession of a passport is an individual right, and a passport may be confiscated solely pursuant to a judicial ruling.

14. Article 16 — Family relations

87. Federal Law No. 20 of 2005 concerning personal status regulates family relations (marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance, etc.). The United Arab Emirates expresses its appreciation for the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. However, certain matters concerning the regulation of marriage and inheritance are based on the Islamic sharia, which treats women without discrimination in all respects.

88. Under the sharia and personal status law, a woman is entitled to choose her husband and request annulment of the marriage contract (khula). In cases of problematic marriageability, the judge serves as the guardian of the woman and marries her off. Generally, Emirati personal status law guarantees the rights of women based on the sharia, which treats women without discrimination. It stipulates a woman’s inheritance share, whether large or small, depending on her degree of kinship to the deceased. Islam safeguards the rights of women based on justice, fairness and balance. It considers the women’s duties and man’s obligations. Men, not women, are required to bear the financial burdens. Thus, a man is responsible for covering the expenses of his wife and children. A male does not necessarily have precedence over a female regarding inheritance in all cases. In some cases, males and females are equal. In other cases, a female has precedence, while in others a female inherits, but a male does not.

Chapter Three

Implementation of the Convention: opportunities and challenges

89. The United Arab Emirates has achieved significant progress in promoting women’s rights, empowering women, strengthening their status at various levels and opening new horizons of empowerment. It is among the leading states of the world in respect of the empowerment of women and promotion of women’s roles in all aspects of society. Nonetheless, efforts to bring about change have met with challenges that impede or slow the progress of women.

90. The absence of precise, detailed statistical indicators according to geographical scope (urban/rural) is a key challenge facing strategic planning for the advancement of women in the State. The General Women’s Union has taken note of this problem. It is working assiduously in cooperation with the National Bureau of Statistics to urge the concerned institutions of the need to include all international indicators of women’s empowerment within their statistical databases and to develop a strategy for gender statistics in the State.

91. The State has undertaken initiatives through governmental, private and civil society institutions to enable Emirati women to hold leadership posts, doing so in record time relative to the age of the State. Nonetheless, it aspires to increase women’s participation in various sectors by boosting leadership capacity building programmes for women to qualify them to hold more posts in institutions and to be better represented in parliament. To this end, the relevant institutions are working to promote societal awareness of the importance of political participation. The State also aspires to promote economic empowerment programmes for women and to increase the percentage of women in the business sector by supporting enterprises run by businesswomen.

[1] Mohammed bin Rashid, “Emirati women have strongly proven their effectiveness in the workplace,” al-Khalij newspaper, 10 December 2012,


[2] “His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed delivers the State’s statements to the General Assembly of the United Nations,” website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

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