Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai is a poet well-known for his obsession with horses. "Honored is the horse on this land and victorious, whence every horse aspires to be glorious," Bin Rashid's poems on Instagram are enriched in equine imageries.
This powerful ruler of Dubai, a poet and an aficionado of horses has been all over the media after the news broke that Princess Haya, his sixth wife, fled Dubai and now seeking political asylum in the United Kingdom.
"You let the reins on your horse go free," Bin Rashid, on June 10, addressed his estranged wife through a poem entitled "You Lived and You Died". He posted this poem on Instagram lamenting his wife's "treachery and betrayal".
This poet Bin Rashid's reverence for horses miserably fails when it comes about these lines for his wife. His poem for his wife rather portrays draconian grievances of a man full of anger and anguish. "Your days of lying are over and it doesn't matter what we were and what you are," he now doesn't care if "you live or you die."
Princess Haya has recently asked for a forced marriage protection order in a UK court. She fled the United Arab Emirates asking for asylum in the United Kingdom in fear for her life alleging Maktoum of abuses and mistreatments.
Haya's escape to the UK has created a diplomatic dilemma between the UAE and the UK who maintain a solid bilateral relation. The United Kingdom has extensive provisions in place to provide protection to persons seeking asylum. If the United Kingdom extradites Princess Haya, a newly formed government plagued by Brexit saga will have backlash at home and in the international community. On the other hand, diplomatic relations between the UK and the UAE are too important to ratchet up a spat on a potential extradition question.
Princess Haya, however, is not the first story of women escaping from the Gulf States. There have been myriads of stories of violence against women and multiple escapes from these countries sparking international backlash in the last few years.
From domestic violence to political repression, trends of women repression in these countries are almost identical. Through the narratives of the women who could make it to 'freedom' from Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, the world has learned the extent of repression women go through in these countries.
ABC News published stories of women oppressed in Saudi Arabia earlier this year. They quoted Nourah, in her pseudo name, saying, "Any male from my family can control my life in any way. He can make the big decisions in my life including my partner, the future of my education, even if I went to the hospital he had to sign for me."
Thanks to the incumbent Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, however, the women had their driving license for the first time in 2018. But the Crown Prince Bin Salman has also been accused of imprisoning women rights activists including Loujain al-Hathloul who championed Saudi women's rights to drive.
Saudi Arabia looks rather focused on subduing its human rights defenders as Riyadh froze business ties with Canada and expelled its ambassador after Canada called for the release of the detained activists.
During the outset of the Gulf States' blockade over Qatar, the plight of women resurfaced as families got torn apart after the blockading countries expelled Qatari citizens from the countries.
All the Gulf States go by a matching rule that children's citizenship is to be determined through their fathers' citizenship. As a result, many women in Doha with husbands from neighbouring Gulf countries suffered from the issue of their children's citizenship. Because in Qatar, the children of Qatari mother go through a rigorous process if to apply for citizenship whilst through the fathers they can have the Qatari citizenship automatically.
In pursuit of finding why so many women leave this region, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) enlisted some reasons like no freedom to travel or get a passport, no freedom to choose a marriage partner, child marriages or inequality in divorce, child custody, and inheritance.
These issues, however, have some religious implications, distortedly represented in defence of Saudi Arabia and its neighbouring countries' policies towards women.
Saudi Arabia follows some extreme analyses of Islam in the areas that benefit the interest of its kingdom and at the same time opens up bikini sea beaches to allure tourists. The Gulf Countries' domineering approach to women and continuous repression doesn't necessarily reflect their adherence to the spirit of the religion they follow.
Approaches of these monarchies towards the women rather complement the draconian policies they apply to subdue the Arab people from freedom and democracy.
The women in Bin Rashid's country either live a life incarcerated under the guardianship of domineering male 'custodians' who get to decide everything about their lives or "it doesn't matter what we were and what you are," as Al Maktoum addresses his estranged wife, the men do not care if "you live or you die."