‘Girls of Riyadh’ and ‘Desperate in Dubai’: Reading and Writing Romance in the Middle East

Publication year
2022
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Here's an abstract:

In this chapter, we look closely at these two examples of Muslim chick lit novels from the Middle East – both ‘Arabic best-sellers’– and their relationship to genre, narrative, and audience. Our focus is on the way these texts respond to and challenge the representation of Arab-Muslim women in popular romantic culture through their articulation of genre tropes. The originally intended local readership of both novels makes them excellent sources to examine their relationship to western foremothers, articulation of narrative forms, and audience identification. Drawing on close readings of each novel, interviews with the authors, and reviews, we argue that these novels respond to genre tropes in ways that do not privilege Anglo-western models and, in the process, present an alternative model for representing Arab-Muslim women in romantic culture.

A pre-print version can be downloaded from the University of Birmingham page linked to above. Although this is about chick lit, there is mention made that "Al Hakawati claims Desperate in Dubai as an explicit response to 'the way Arab and Muslim woman are portrayed in romance novels.'"