Oprah Winfrey the renowned US TV host *Last month, as part of her “Women Around the World” TV show episode, conducted an interview via Skype with Dr. Lamees Hamdan, a Dubai mother of four who owns Shiffa, a line of high-end skin-care products.
In the online introduction to the segment, Oprah’s team writes of the United Arab Emirates: “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!”
Although Dubai residents aren’t subject to income tax, the water, electricity and health care are not free, according to Dubai citizens who flooded the show’s Web site. One viewer, named “Truespeak1,” posted the following clarification:
• 1. Everybody has to pay electricity and water bills. As non-locals (ie anyone who is not a UAE citizen) we pay very high bills for electricity. Consider the fact that the UAE has the highest energy consumption in the world. No one is subsidizing the bills that’s for sure!
• 2. We all have to pay for healthcare. If you are not covered by health insurance, a regular visit to the doctor can range from anywhere around 100 AED- 400 AED .
There was also controversy over the outfit Hamdan wore on the air — a tunic, but not a sheila, the national headdress. Hamdan referred to her decision to forego the sheila as a “cultural” and not a “religious” one, upsetting some Arab-world viewers, according to Gulfnews.com.
Another bone of contention among Arab viewers was that the interview was conducted via Skype: The Web-based phone system is banned in the UAE, though the rule was waived for Oprah’s segment.
A spokesman for Oprah’s production company Harpo told the New York Post’s Page Six, “It was never the intention of the ‘Oprah’ show to misrepresent the people of Dubai. Dr. Hamdan appeared live on our program to speak about her personal life experience as a citizen of Dubai. We apologize if any of our viewers were offended.”