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Amal Awad spoke with women in the Arab world and Arab Australian women to discover what their lives are really like. The breadth, variety and beauty of what she discovered will surprise you.

Magnificent. Surprising. Illuminating. Australia needs this book.

As someone who has a foot in both the Western and Arabic worlds, Amal set out to explore the lives of Arab women, in Australia and the Middle East, travelling to the region and interviewing more than sixty women about feminism, intimacy, love, sex and shame, trauma, war, religion and culture.

Beyond Veiled Clichés explores the similarities and differences experienced by these women in their daily lives – work, relationships, home and family life, friendships, the communities they live in, and more. Arab-Australian women are at the intersection – between Western ideals and Arab tradition. It can get messy, but there is also great beauty in the layers.

In a time of racial tension and rising global fear around terrorism, there is a renewed fear of 'the other'. At its heart this fascinating book normalises people and their experiences. The breadth, variety and beauty of what Amal has discovered will enthral and surprise you.


In her new book, Beyond Veiled Clichés: The Real Lives of Arab Women, Amal Awad brings the much-needed voices of Arab women to the forefront. The author invites us to listen in on her discussions with prominent women in their communities, as well as old friends. The topics range from the inevitable discussion of the hijab, identity politics, and the line between religion and culture to Arab feminism and the experiences of queer Arab women. While many of these vignettes centre on well-worn debates within mainstream media, they also vividly point out that Arab women have been grappling with these issues in their own way and with far greater nuance than Western critics tend to give them credit.

Athena Rogers, Right

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    May 29, 2017

    Vintage Australia

    304 pages

    RRP $34.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    May 29, 2017

    Random House Australia

    304 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
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    • eBooks


Dubai is many things – interesting, enthralling, unusual – but it’s not a genuine glimpse of the Arab world. That’s not to say I didn’t like it. But it felt more like a business centre dropped into the middle of the desert than the Middle East I knew. It’s a world designed to encourage and promote the growth of ideas and invention. And it’s making great inroads in the representation of Emirati women in the workforce and in government. At the time of my visit, the UAE had eight female ministers in its thirty- member cabinet, and its ambitious 2020 Expo was being led by Reem Al Hashimy, another high-achieving woman. With its large expat community, many women are also active in the workplace. Laudy Lahdo, a Lebanese-Australian woman, is based out of Dubai as the general manager of Servcorp Middle East. She has found great success in her industry: in her first year working there, she won an award for manager of the year. So Dubai may have its critics, but arguably it is a place of dreams – easier to reach than the US if you’re from the East; attractive to Westerners for its financial benefits and imitations of Western life.

But my authentic Bedouin experience was quickly turning sour.

I had longed to touch the desert sands, and after a month of intense interactions and travel in the region, I wanted to have some fun with Chris. So I’d registered us for this expedition of desert exploration. I had no idea at the time that trips like this in Dubai constituted an entire industry, so large in scale that the only variations between tourist providers was whether you paid more and got a bottle of booze thrown in.

Continue Reading
12 September 2001

Amal Awad reflects on her experiences in the aftermath of 9/11.

Also by Amal Awad