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.
Pack your bags for Bravo's first original international Housewives franchise, The Real Housewives of Dubai! ✈️ 🌴 🇦🇪 Bravoholics, we're leaving the hashtag up to YOU! Tweet using #RHODubai or #RHODXB to cast your vote, we'll be announcing the winner on Friday! pic.twitter.com/BlHIJAyVZV
— Bravo (@BravoTV) November 1, 2021
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.
Great! So now we're going to ignore the anti-gay laws and misogyny of UAE? 10-15 years in prison for being gay. Great pick! I see the "social consciousness" of BRAVO didn't last very long.
— Teresa's Forehead 🌈(the original) (@TeresasForehea1) November 1, 2021
we love human rights violations
— max (@MAXcollective) November 1, 2021
SMDH seeing Andy supporting a Housewives franchise in Dubai with their anti LGBTQ+ laws and record
— ᴊᴇʟᴀ (@jelevision) November 1, 2021
@Andy @thebossofyou Is it bothersome to you that you are going to be shining a potentially positive spotlight on a country where being gay is a crime? I realize that it is a luxurious destination, but…. Not an indictment. I don’t know enough about it. Thoughts?
— Mark Ward (@AskMarkWard) November 1, 2021
Cool, human rights are for the rich.
— Corvus Glaive (@dotzbornak) November 1, 2021
I lived in Dubai for a year. The editing will be heavy once they realize ALL the things that can’t be done in Dubai.
I would have preferred Chicago.
— christine (@NYC4691) November 1, 2021
They can’t drink, party, or wear sexy clothes. And swearing 🤬 is haram. Sounds like a fun show.
— Gai Is Here (@GGrabbyishere) November 1, 2021
@andy is the worst kind of sellout. All sexual relations outside of hetero marriage are criminalized in Dubai. Punishments may include jail, floggings, death, fines, deportation, chemical castration, forced psychological treatments, beatings, forced hormone injections & torture
— 🌪 (@djuhnk) November 1, 2021
Bravo said the show will air in 2022.