I noticed that too. Presumably some Arab countries are less batshit than
others ? Although let's not start assuming women have a fair deal in the
west for comparison.
But it seems the UAE are certainly keen to advance and using some of that
oil money towards it.
You're right. I did business in the UAE some 30 years ago and even then
it was much more liberal than the rest of the Middle East. For example,
and only if you weren't called Mohammed, you could get an alcohol drink
licence entitling you to spend £70 a month on drink. Because nobody was
allowed to profit from the sale of alcohol a bottle of Scotch cost £2!
Western women (Lebanese and Palestinian as well) didn't need to cover
their heads or faces although all were thoroughly ignored when it came
to queues. Skirts had to be of reasonably modest length but no worse
than in many Catholic countries at the time.
I didn't do business elsewhere in the Middle East because of the drink
restrictions (I had no teetotal employees) and because the other more
liberal countries had no oil and therefore no money.
I'm not generally well disposed towards the nuttier and more extreme
Islamic regimes (Saudi Arabia being an example), but I am aware that as
with "the West" there's probably a spectrum from 0 to 100.
Anyway, fair play to them. If the UK can't do space or nuclear, then at
least we can enjoy countries that can.