UAE ridiculed for gender balance award ceremony which features no women

Telegraph Reporters
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai hands out the awards   - Dubai Media Office 

The government of the United Arab Emirates has been mocked for posting pictures of winners of awards for gender balance, which featured no women.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai's ruler, was shown congratulating the recipients of Best Personality Supporting Gender Balance, Best Federal Authority Supporting Gender Balance, and Best Gender Balance Initiative.

Lt Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, was recognised as the “best personality supporting gender balance” for his efforts to implement maternity leave in the UAE’s military.

Two other senior male officials received the rest.

Eyebrows were raised after photographs from the event were posted on the Dubai media office’s Twitter account.

“Awesome initiative. How do you define Gender Balance Index? Obviously one gender is missing. Asking for a friend,” tweeted one account.

Daniela Tejada, whose husband Matthew Hedges was recently released from prison in UAE after being sentenced to life in prison for spying, tweeted: “The reason why neither Matt nor I ever represented a reputational risk to the UAE is because the UAE represents a reputational risk to itself. Once again, actions speak louder than words.”

Sheikh Mohammed was quoted as saying: “We are proud of the success of Emirati women and their role is central to shaping the future of the country. Gender balance has become a pillar in our governmental institutions.”

The Twitter account later released some pictures of the winners posing for pictures with a handful of women, though it does not appear they were themselves recipients of any awards.

A statement by the official Dubai Media Office meanwhile cited Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, president of the UAE Gender Balance Council, as saying it had achieved a goal set in 2015 to reduce the gender gap across all sectors of government.

But last month the country was ranked 121st out of 149 countries overall in the World Economic Forum's 2018 Global Gender Gap Report and 134th in terms of economic participation and opportunity.