The Real Housewives of Dubai actors are technically the new kid on the block when it comes to the famous wealthy and eccentric women's franchise Bravo proper. The cast is definitely bringing the drama, but did they include cultural appropriation as well?
The shindig was thrown by Sara Al Madani as a way to introduce the cast of Real Housewives of Dubai to her Jamaican heritage, although the fanbase is a different story.
I was concerned about the look, because some people may not accept it due to their culture. But the fact is, the Afro exists in my culture. There are Black people in my culture, there are Emiratis who have Afros, and we have people of color in our country. So for us, in the United Arab Emirates, it is quite normal. But other people around the world were concerned about it in a different light.
And boy, did they! Based on what the Real Housewives of Dubai star is implying here, she appears to be largely equating culture with ancestry, which isnt always the same thing. To boot, she has only publicly identified as being Emirati herself, not Black. One Twitter user slammed it as a form of cultural appropriation, while another compared it to someone doing blackface.
Sara Al Madanis' co-stars were silent during the event; in fact, hostess Lesa Milan said she was blown away by the outfit. She even warned in a confessional that nobody should submit cultural appropriations [comments] because Jamaica's motto is out of many, one people.
Lesa Milan was criticized for what transpired in the episode. (Although their other co-star Caroline Brooks made a minor ghetto remark.) Viewers were equally dissatisfied with Milan's participation in a Jamaican event.
When it comes to Jamaican dressing, Afro wigs and fake locs, you must go. Culture is not costume. It's 2022, how are we still doing this dumb shit? #RHODubai pic.twitter.com/yTsTlNtvaJAugust 3, 2022
As previously reported by RHONYs Debbie Johnson, the show has had a history of celebrities being accused of cultural appropriation and even racism. (NBCs Megyn Kelly defended her in her famous blackface remarks the following year). In 2021, Bravo decided to remove offensive language from the episode entirely.
Sara Al Madani and her wig in the Real Housewives of Dubai are still there as of this writing, but for her part, Al Madani appears to have no reservations. She told the outlet, "I just loved the look" and "I had so much fun."
I don't know if this is what Andy Cohen meant when he said that the Real Housewives of Dubai would blow the stereotypes of Dubai out of the water. But whatever the reason, stereotypes are definitely coming into play. Tune in for more episodes of the new spinoff, which will launch on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on Bravo and the following day with Peacock Premium.