Andy Cohen x Real Housewives of Dubai controversy explained ahead of Season 1 premiere

Real Housewives of Dubai has landed Andy Cohen in a controversy (Image via Bravo/YouTube)
Real Housewives of Dubai has landed Andy Cohen in a controversy (Image via Bravo/YouTube)

Andy Cohen and Bravo continue to face backlash ahead of the Season 1 premiere of the television network's newest housewives show, Real Housewives of Dubai.

After the first trailer was released, a group of 12 human rights groups called for the network to publicly issue a statement saying that they oppose violence against women and the homophobic laws set by the rulers and emperors of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They wrote an open letter to Bravo, parent company NBC Universal and production company Truly Original expressing concerns.

Human rights groups who have slammed Cohen and the network include Freedom Forward, Action Corps, Clearinghouse on Women's Issues, CODEPINK, European Centre For Democracy and Human Rights, FairSquare, Health Advocacy International, Human Rights Sentinel, Just Foreign Policy, Last Mile4D, Peace Action and ReThinking Foreign Policy.


More details on Andy Cohen x Real Housewives of Dubai controversy

In the letter, human rights groups expressed concerns over the concept of Real Housewives of Dubai, where women weren't accurately portrayed. As a result, the show gave way to rather sensitive issues that were problematic in the country. The letter said:

"Dubai is an absolute monarchy that is part of the dictatorship of the United Arab Emirates. By setting the Real Housewives franchise inside Dubai, you are helping the UAE dictatorship hide its male rulers' misogyny, legalized homophobia and mass violence against women."

The group demanded that the network reveal if the Real Housewives of Dubai was funded by the rulers of Dubai and UAE or not. They also asked the television network to run a disclaimer before the show that states that Bravo and other associated networks and businesses "oppose the UAE and Dubai dictatorship's misogyny, homophobia, women's rights violations and war in Yemen."

They also wanted the money earned from the show to in any way be donated to human rights organizations. An additional request was made that the housewives on the show be sensitized and educated on these issues. Apart from the injustices against women, the UAE's homophobic laws were also a major concern among people. The letter said:

"By producing the [show], you risk providing the rulers of the UAE and Dubai with the soft propaganda they need to hide their human rights crimes from the world. We urge you to immediately take the above steps to demonstrate your rejection of the human rights violations, homophobia and predatory male behavior of the rulers of the United Arab Emirates and Dubai."

When Real Housewives of Dubai was announced by Cohen, the executive producer of the franchise, he received a huge backlash from people who claimed that the show would be filmed in the city known for human rights violations, particularly against women and the LGBTQ+ community.

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In an interview with Khaleej Times, UAE homemaker Mona Al Mutawa spoke about the issues with the show and how the concept of housewives portrayed can lead to more stereotypical notions. She said:

"The title gives the impression that majority of the housewives of Dubai are scandalous, which is false. Being a housewife in Dubai, I could not relate to any of those characters. Dubai and our leaders have always taught us respect, tolerance and that with hard work everything is achievable. Where is that in the show?"

She continued:

"Where are the ambitious women, business owners, women working full-time jobs while taking care of their kids and running an entire household operation? Why was that not important to be shared? THAT is what a REAL housewife of Dubai is."

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The first look of Real Housewives of Dubai was released just a few days ago and features the cast members who reveal that "Anything is possible in Dubai. It's the land of opportunity," after which the rich and glamorous lives of the housewives are shown on screen. Cast member Caroline Stanbury also talked about how women in Dubai are far from being submissive, where most of them run the town.

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Edited by Somava