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‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’ sparks sharp backlash for Bravo, Andy Cohen

This is not the first time the “Real Housewives” franchise — which premiered in 2006 with “The Real Housewives of Orange Country” — has come under fire for bigotry.

Andy Cohen attends the October launch party for the book “Not All Diamonds and Rosé: The Inside Story of The Real Housewives from the People Who Lived It” in New York City.
Andy Cohen attends the October launch party for the book, “Not All Diamonds and Rosé: The Inside Story of The Real Housewives from the People Who Lived It,” in New York City.
Getty

“The Real Housewives” franchise is expanding overseas, but not everyone is a fan.

Executive producer Andy Cohen announced Monday that Bravo is producing “The Real Housewives of Dubai,” marking the network’s 11th installment and first international franchise.

“Everything’s bigger in Dubai, and I couldn’t be more excited to launch Bravo’s first international ‘Housewives’ series in a city I’ve been fascinated by for years,” Cohen said in a statement.

During an appearance on the “Today” show on Monday, Cohen excitedly shared: “Get your passports, our 11th city! We are going to the billionaire’s playground. This is going to blow the lid off the entire franchise.”

Following the announcement, the franchise’s new location sparked fan outcry on social media. Although the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the richest countries in the world, offers a tantalizing display of opulence that translates well to reality television, social media users called out Bravo for overlooking the country’s human rights violations against women and the LGBTQ+ community.

USA TODAY reached out to Cohen for comment. The network declined to comment.

But some potential ‘Housewives’ fans were unhappy about the news.

“So now we’re going to ignore the anti-gay laws and misogyny of UAE?” tweeted @TeresaForehea1. “Great pick! I see the ‘social consciousness’ of BRAVO didn’t last very long.”

Bravo has previously expressed its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and said its cast and crews are required to complete sensitivity and inclusion training.

In 2019, Cohen said Bravo is “the most inclusive channel in the history of television, as far as I’m concerned.”

Bravo’s promotional video for ”Dubai” refers to “The City of Gold” as the “land of opportunity” and “new American dream,” but a 2021 Human Rights Watch reportsaid women and girls face “significant discrimination.”

According to the report, women in Dubai need written permission from a male guardian to get married, while men do not. ”Laws still provide male guardian authority over women and loopholes allow reduced sentences for men for killing a female relative,” the Human Rights Watch adds.

“A disgusting choice,” tweeted @SwanBubbles about the Dubai location for the new version of the franchise. Twitter user @MariaMSaab added: “Pretty culturally tone deaf to call Dubai the ‘new American dream.’ “

The LGBTQ+ community also faces discrimination in the UAE, which “criminalizes forms of gender expression,” according to Human Rights Watch. The UAE is ranked No. 142 on Asher & Lyric’s 150-country list of best and worst countries for LGBTQ travel in 2021.

Other social media users addressed their concerns directly to Cohen, the series’ executive producer, who is openly gay.

“(Shaking my head) seeing Andy supporting a Housewives franchise in Dubai with their anti LGBTQ+ laws and record,” tweeted @jelevision.

User @DaniVanella added: “Dear @Andy, it’s illegal to be gay in Dubai... I wish you and @BravoTV would reconsider.”

“@Andy… Is it bothersome to you that you are going to be shining a potentially positive spotlight on a country where being gay is a crime?” wrote @AskMarkWard on Twitter.

This is not the first time the “Real Housewives” franchise — which premiered in 2006 with “The Real Housewives of Orange Country” — has come under fire for bigotry. While the network aims to be inclusive, fans have pointed out problematic incidents over the years, from homophobic and racist comments to offensive costumes.

Bravo’s latest installment based in Dubai will feature “a group of women navigating their relationships, careers, and supremely lavish and ultra-wealthy lifestyles in the United Arab Emirates… whether they’re coasting on a private plane, running their own empires or hosting on a private island,” the network said.

Despite the criticism, other fans seemed excited.

“Wow! Dubai is gonna smoke all the other cities. They have crazy money!!!” fan @vanessaj_socialbutterfly commented on Instagram. And others speculated whether “Ladies of London” alum Caroline Stanbury would join the cast. User @wineandbabies commented: “Can we get @carolinestanbury back please?????”

“The Real Housewives of Dubai” is set to premiere in 2022. A cast has not yet been announced.

Contributing: David Oliver

Read more at usatoday.com