For those of us who live in the UAE, there are many things that strike as unique to outsiders. They are customs or norms that are taken for granted by the almost 10 million who now live, but might take some time to actually accept — and being able to walk the streets anywhere at night is one of these luxuries that are taken from granted.
The reality is that in most countries and certainly in larger cities, the notion of women, in particular being able to walk safely on city streets, stretches credulity. Yet in the UAE, it is indeed a truth that we ought to be proud of.
Recent horrific cases in London, New York and elsewhere provide ample examples for women that should never let their guard down, must always look over their shoulder, and can never afford to drop their guard or vigilance against the prospect that they might be prey or subjected to violence or worse.
Google the term “safe streets” in any browser and the search results will list a litany of crimes of widespread protest movements in attempts to raise awareness of the dangers faced by women on city streets from predators. There is every reason that women need fear for their safety alone at night — and the sad headlines add heft to those warnings and concerns.
But not in the UAE.
The reality is that here in the UAE, women can walk any street in our cities and communities and not feel afraid. And a global survey by pollster Gallup endorses that startling reality. The UAE is ranked top for safety at night, with Norway coming in second.
Yes, women are safe, Yes, there is a respect for safety and it is universal here in the UAE. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah all rank within the top ten list of safe cities globally — testament to the security here. Some 95 per cent of women feel safe here at night, 93 per cent in Norway.
For those arriving in the UAE that reality does take time to sink in, in part because of conditioning where previous life experience has installed the need to be vigilant, in part because it is hard to believe that all of the elements that come together for such a security blanket to be installed are indeed present here — and universal — across the UAE. For that our Leaders, the Government and all involved in security can be proud. And all of us too for contributing to the safety of every woman.