Pink tablet for women gets mixed reception in Gulf

Women in Gulf are highly educated but only make up 20% of the workforce.

By LINDA GRADSTEIN/ THE MEDIA LINE
February 17, 2013 18:28
3 minute read.
Woman in Dubai shopping mall

dubai370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Many wives in Dubai were probably thrilled to receive a Valentine’s Day gift of an ePad Femme Tablet, which bills itself as “the world’s first tablet made exclusively for women.”

It comes in light pink with an eight-inch screen, an inch bigger than most Tablets. The Operating system is Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and it has 16 GB of ROM. It costs just $190. In the past three months, more than 7,000 have been sold.

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“The Tablet comes preloaded with applications so you can just turn it on and log in to cooking recipes or yoga,” Mani Nair, the Associate Vice President for Marketing at Eurostar, which manufactures the devices told The Media Line. “It makes a perfect gadget for a woman who might find difficulties in terms of downloading these applications and it is a quick reference.”

Nair says there was no sexist intent in choosing the applications, including one called “Women’s Assistant” which offers weight-loss tips.

“Whether you talk about Google or the Internet, an ocean of information is available,” he said. “Eurostar is now focusing on pre-loaded applications, which makes it easy for the user to buy the gadget and have it ready for use.”

There are similar new Tablets for “gamers”, pre-loaded with 1,500 computer games, and for children and teenagers.

Dee Ann Javier, a native of the Philippines, who is living in Dubai, says her boyfriend gave her an ePad Femme for Valentines Day.



“I like it so far – it’s good for browsing and searching and playing games,” she told The Media Line. “I’ve checked out the cooking application but I’m not really into fitness.”

Javier, who works in real estate, says she likes the portability and the color.

“A lot of my stuff is pink,” she said. “So I really like the color.”

Yet, some women in the Gulf say they would never buy a computer intended especially for women.

“There have always been special books for women concerning sex, how to please your husband, and what to cook for him,” Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi feminist blogger told The Media Line. “This is just using technology for the same thing.”

Al Nafjan says that women in the Gulf are computer-literate and can access their own applications. She says that in Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive or travel without a male relative, women spend a lot of time on-line.

“There is a lot less to do here than in the West,” she said. “You only meet people who are your family or who you study or work with.”

A new study finds that in the GCC countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – there are more female university graduates than male. Education in all of these countries is free. Yet, only an estimated 20 percent of the work force is female, due mostly to cultural restrictions, which encourage women, especially after having children, not to work outside the home.

“Whoever made this Tablet doesn’t understand us very well,” Al Nafjan said. “We are home all the time and we are extremely tech-savvy.”

The Tablet is Wi-Fi enabled and comes with a USB Cable and an HDMI cable meaning it can be hooked up directly to the television. It has multi-language support including Arabic, English, French, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian.

It also comes with Google, Skype, Twitter, YouTube and Gmail and functions as an e-book reader as well.

Mani Nair of Eurostar says that most of the Tablets were purchased by men as gifts for women.

Eman El Nafjan says she’s not surprised.

“I think it would be mostly a gift idea,” she said. “Some Saudi women might be interested in this but they are also interested in a lot more.”

For more stories from The Media Line go to www.themedialine.org

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