Last Updated: Wed Nov 03, 2010 13:07 pm (KSA) 10:07 am (GMT)

Oprah apologizes for misrepresenting Dubai

Oprah introduces Dr. Lamees Hamdan seen in the backgroud
Oprah introduces Dr. Lamees Hamdan seen in the backgroud

American chat show queen, Oprah Winfrey, was forced to apologize on Monday to an outraged audience for an episode of her show featuring women from around the world in which a guest from Dubai gave false information about life in the dazzling UAE city.

The episode, which aired in October, hosted women from cities like Copenhagen, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, Tokyo and Dubai, where Dr. Lamees Hamdan spoke to the show via Skype and explained about her life and what living in Dubai was like.

The segment began with a voice-over by Oprah who 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!”

Hamdan went on to explain to the audience that people in Dubai do not pay utility bills, which is incorrect, and said there were no "poor people" in Dubai, overlooking the city's tens of thousands of unskilled workers from South East Asia.

The show's website,, was flooded with comments and emails from angry viewers, who said Hamdan and Oprah misrepresented life in Dubai with false comments.

Lamees Hamdan invites the Oprah show into her home

"We do pay electricity and water...its freaking called DEWA!!!! Who is this infamous doctor and why the hell is she speaking non sense???" nkhouri22 said in a comment on YouTube, where the video has been posted.

The mother of five also caused a stir by saying that the traditional black dress and scarf, known as shela and abaya, was "cultural" and not religious.

Another comment on YouTube by a user called remaks69 read: "wearing abaya and head cover is a mandatory and it's not cultural feature, it's one of the Islamic due to any muslim woman! so stop saying it's cultural and yes, you've wrongly made the choice of not wearing it!"

Another point that ruffled some feathers among Arab viewers was that the interview was conducted via the online phone system Skype, which is blocked in the UAE, but opened for Hamdan to appear on Oprah's show.

A spokeswoman for Harpo, Oprah’s production company, told the New York Post “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."

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