Harpo, the production company behind The Oprah Winfrey Show, has apologised for misrepresenting Dubai in a segment of the programme featuring women around the world.
Dr Lamees Hamdan of Dubai, an Emirati mother of five and the founder of the Shiffa cosmetics brand, sparked controversy when she appeared via Skype as one of six women featured on the hugely popular US-based show.
The segment began with a voice-over by Ms Winfrey that said: “Thanks to this country’s rich oil supplies, the government provides its citizens with free water, electricity and health care. The best part? No income tax!”
Dr Hamdan said, incorrectly, that water, electricity and health services were free in the UAE. And she referred to the shela and abaya as “cultural” and not religious. She said she does not wear them, although her sisters do.
On Monday, a spokeswoman for Oprah’s production company told PageSix of the New York Post that “it was never the intention of the Oprah show to misrepresent the people of Dubai”.
Many local viewers of the show have reacted. Haif Zamzam from Abu Dhabi wrote on The National website that she was “highly disappointed that people got this worked up about what [Dr Hamdan] said.
I feel she said nothing (of substance) that was wrong, except for the fact we don’t pay utility bills. Other than that, it was all spot-on.”