Rana Khalid AlMutawa

Assistant Professor Emerging Scholar of Social Research and Public Policy Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: PhD University of Oxford; MIA Columbia University

Research Areas: UAE; GCC; Belonging; Urbanity; Community; Social Distinction


Rana completed her doctoral training at the University of Oxford in 2021. Her thesis, which she is currently working on as a book project, is an urban ethnography of middle-class citizens and long-term residents in Dubai. It explores discourses of authenticity that circulate about “spectacular” cities such as Dubai and the forms of belonging and agency that take place in these settings. In particular, she is interested in interrogating the way narratives of certain geographies’ “(in)authenticity” and “superficiality” are often linked to performances of social distinction; in the forms of belonging taking place in “spectacular” spaces that are often dismissed as alienating; and in the intersectional forms of exclusion happening in these settings.

Prior to being at Oxford, Rana worked as an instructor and researcher at Zayed University in Dubai for three years. As an Emirati woman, she was interested in and wrote about questions on state feminism, national identity, and ethnic diversity among Emiratis. She has published her work in Arab Studies Journal (2020); Hawwa (2020); Urban Anthropology (2019); New Middle Eastern Studies (2016) as well as in other public platforms such as the LSE Middle East Studies Blog where she wrote about navigating multiple lived experiences in the Gulf; social distinction, and perceptions of authenticity.

Courses Taught