The “Gen Zeds” of the title are female Emirati students in their early twenties at Zayed University who have one foot in the traditional Islamic culture of their families and another in a world that expects them to revolutionize economic and social life. Gen Zeds represent today’s generation of Emirati students. Though they are from Zayed University, they could just as easily have been from UAE University or the Higher Colleges of Technology because their education has been the result of a big push for opportunity by the country’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi. These students (the Gen Zeds) are highly educated, media literate, and intense users of the internet. Upon graduation, they are expected to assume leadership positions in the United Arab Emirates despite living in a society that until recently has not permitted women roles beyond motherhood and homemaking. This paper considers whether the lessons and experiences they encounter at university will equip them for life in a society radically different from that of their mothers’.
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