Bridging the Gulf

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The Middle East doesn't give an impression of offering women equal opportunities. In Saudi Arabia, they're not even allowed to drive. Which makes this story all the more remarkable: in the United Arab Emirates, women architects are rebuilding their own cities. Razia Iqbal explores this untold story of their
success in the desert.

The Emirate of Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates, has twenty women on its prestigious architecture course and only two men. In another Emirate, Abu Dhabi, the Urban Planning Council has women ensuring that the built environment will cope with their needs as much as those of big business.

The programme opens in Sharjah, and the American University. Its College of Architecture, Art and Design has a highly respected course, and Razia joins the students on campus. What she finds remarkable is the self confidence and enterprise of the young women who have come from all of the United Arab Emirates and make up the majority of the class. She'll speak to students and tutors to analyse what their futures will hold for them in the Gulf and beyond.
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