First-time Emirati Fathers’ Identity, Attitudes and Beliefs Regarding Their Role in Parenting, Family, and Child Development


  • Professor Xuan Li, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Dr. Shaalan Farouk, New York University Abu Dhabi

Hospital Partners

  • Corniche Hospital Abu Dhabi and Danat Al Emarat Hospital Abu Dhabi

Funded by

Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority

Project Summary

In this project, we want to give a voice to first-time Emirati fathers to learn more about their attitudes and beliefs regarding parental and family roles as they transition into parenthood. Using a mixed-method approach, that is combining open-ended interview questions with survey questions, physiological measures and observations, we hope to contribute to a better understanding of how Arab-Muslim fathers construct their identity as fathers, how they balance traditional and modern values around child rearing and family roles, and how they develop parenting competencies.

Participants will be recruited during the last trimester of the wife’s pregnancy when the first interview and survey data will be collected. The second data collection is planned around three months after childbirth to explore potential changes in fathers’ attitudes and beliefs regarding parental and family roles. At that time, the families will be invited to the Play Lab at NYU Abu Dhabi where fathers will complete another interview and also be observed interacting with the baby when we collect physiological data. Fathers and mothers will also be asked to complete a second survey.

Together, we hope this rich data will help inform policies related to paternal, familial, and child well-being, such as paternity and parental leaves and the inclusion of fathers in health services and educational settings. It might also inform the development of resources and initiatives specifically targeting Emirati fathers of young children, such as programs that support new fathers’ mental health, with the ultimate goal to optimize children’s development.