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Dubai’s lady bank to feature pink drive-thru lane

June 9, 2009

‘Dubai Bank has launched a new banking service “Amirah” (meaning princess in Arabic) for its female customers enabling them to carry out their banking transactions with comfort and privacy.’

Dealing with the bureaucracy of financial institutions as a woman is challenging enough in many South countries (and Canada and the U.S. well into the ’80s since women had to use their husbands’ names on their credit cards). From personal experience, women in my family have had trouble making financial transactions in their own name in Iran, Kuwait, and even withdrawing their own money in Saudi Arabia.

So the marketing of an entire banking service for women only has a bad deodorant commercial sniff to it. Regular banking is strong enough for a man, but Princess banking is formulated just for you. Besides the overt condescension, it means the banks don’t have to make finance equitable across gender-lines, just offer services they presume women will value over fair treatment.

This is worse than Dell announcing its lady computer site Della. (Numbers and functions and scores, oh my!) Where Dell uses gender-based consumer marketing to hawk its wares at women, Dubai Bank uses the language of gender-based observance (‘privacy,’ ‘adhering to core Islamic values’) to rationalize its differential treatment. It’s highly doubtful the bank actually adheres to Islamic values in usury and interest, so long as it appears to do so through its female-targeted marketing scheme.

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