The latest installment of The Real Housewives franchise is already causing drama.
Andy Cohen’s announcement Monday on Today that a new version of the Bravo hit — the 11th! — will take place in Dubai was met with excitement. (The consensus seemed to be that the new cast in one of the richest countries in the world will make their counterparts in Beverly Hills look middle class.) Bravo labeled the show its first original international series in the soapy reality franchise. While no cast members were announced, social media was curious whether Caroline Stanbury, a cast member of the network’s Ladies of London, would be involved, since she has a home in the city of Dubai.
However, there was also a wave of backlash — people upset that the show would be filming in a city known for glamour and wealth, yes, but also for human rights violations, particularly against women and the LGBTQ+ community.
For context, a 2020 report from the U.S. State Department declared that women continue to face both legal and economic discrimination in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A woman seeking a divorce with a financial settlement, for example, must prove that her husband caused her physical or moral pain, had not been providing for her family or had abandoned her for several months. If she alleges physical abuse, two male witnesses must back up her account. Overall, the UAE ranked near the bottom — 120th on a list of 153 countries — in gender equality, according to a 2020 report from the World Economic Forum.
As for the LGBTQ+ community, in March, travel safety blog Equaldex named the country the ninth most dangerous country in the world for members of that community to visit. They cited the fact that a male wearing so-called female apparel could face punishment of up to a year in prison and a fine equal to more than $2,700.
Bravo said the show will air in 2022.