The Real Housewives of Dubai Series-Premiere Recap: All Roads Lead to Beyoncé

Hello, dear fans of the Bravoverse! We are excited to announce that after a long wait and some drama between two beloved cast members, the ladies of RHODubai are finally making their return!
As an Entertainment Editor, I often feel apprehensive about shows that premiere long after filming. In today’s 24/7 social media era, where cast members, blogs, and fans are constantly engaged, a lot can happen during the downtime between filming and airing. This can leave the audience with unanswered questions and a sense of dissatisfaction. However, in this particular case, I don’t think we need to worry too much. One of the main storylines of the season appears to be the growing feud between Ayan and Lesa, which has remained a prominent topic among the cast even years later. Another noteworthy event is Sergio’s emotional reaction to Caroline’s facelift recovery. Additionally, during the time it took for Bravo to finalize their programming, I had the opportunity to go on a weeklong trip to the Emirates. This experience has provided me with additional insights into the peculiarities of the place they all call home. So, let’s catch up and see where the women are at since we last saw them.
Caroline Brooks has successfully launched her new beauty spa, and in an impressive six months, no less. It’s quite a feat, possibly even a Bravo record. The spa itself is absolutely stunning, a visual treat for anyone who steps foot inside. Interestingly, it appears that Caroline’s ex-husband played a significant role in making this venture possible, providing financial support. While this may raise some eyebrows, especially considering their recent reconciliation, it also adds an extra layer of potential drama to the situation. We’ve already caught a glimpse of their lively banter, but let’s be fair, Caroline has always had a knack for being a bit testy. In fact, she kicks off this season by proudly stating that she extended exclusive invites to the crème de la crème of Dubai, deliberately excluding Lesa and Ayan. Caroline has never been one to shy away from provoking this group of women, including her best friend Caroline Stanbury. It’s precisely this boldness and willingness to stir the pot that makes her a perfect fit for reality TV.
Lesa and Ayan didn’t let the snub bother them. Despite the incident, the duo remained close and continued their tradition of participating in obscure sports activities, a common practice on Bravo. This time, they tried their hand at Padel, a sport similar to pickleball but with its own unique quirks. It was a fitting choice for the pair, especially when Ayan showed up wearing extravagant white leather riding gloves, a 30-inch wig, and a cropped leather jacket. Clearly, they weren’t focused on athleticism that day. Instead, it provided a backdrop for them to discuss the hottest topic of the moment: Beyoncé’s performance in Dubai at the unveiling of the new Atlantis Royal Hotel.
I vividly remember the moment I first heard Beyoncé’s viral new “Drunk in Love” riff in the “Arab Scale.” I was sitting at home on my couch, casting a devoted Hivemember’s Instagram Live stream to my computer. It was an event where all the women were present, each with varying levels of access. Lesa and Ayan were in the exclusive “VVIP” suites, mingling with celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Sabrina Elba, and Tina Knowles. The other women, while not rubbing elbows with A-listers as much, had floor seats and were fiercely protective of their level of access. Brooks proudly claimed she was so close to Beyoncé that she could even smell her conditioner, while Stanbury boasted about being close enough to get wet from the water splashing on stage. Is this debate trivial? Absolutely. But in the current state of the Bravo world, I find myself eagerly seeking out wealthy women arguing over inconsequential matters.
Despite their previous conflicts, Ayan and Stanbury are showing signs of reconciliation. This development doesn’t come as a surprise, as Ayan has previously expressed her desire to get to know Stanbury better and has even admitted to liking her. However, their relationship has been strained due to Stanbury’s resistance. Both women are parents of older children who are about to enter college, and they share a similar understanding of how to showcase their personalities on camera. Unsurprisingly, Lesa is not pleased with this newfound connection between Ayan and Stanbury. During the previous reunion, they exchanged harsh insults, and this ongoing triangle is bound to create more conflict as the season progresses. For now, there is an uneasy truce between them.
Lesa accurately interprets Stanbury’s behavior, recognizing that she doesn’t genuinely believe she is a witch, but rather sometimes acts unkindly. Stanbury exhibits a case of Lisa Vanderpump syndrome, attempting to deliver a witty remark with her trademark “British humor,” but it often comes across as mean-spirited. We can already see this dynamic with the new cast member, Taleen. What was meant to be a passing comment about Taleen’s drunken incident at the Beyoncé show quickly turns into an allegation that Sergio saw her exposed at the first all-cast gathering.

However, Stanbury approaches the show with a more open and expressive attitude, showcasing her life after facing setbacks in the previous season. Although she may have had her wedding, the honeymoon phase is long gone. The newlyweds are currently staying with a friend who is growing tired of their constant intimacy, while they struggle to build their dream home. Despite these frustrations, Sergio remains eager and determined.
Given her persistent efforts to conceive and the absence of any signs of pregnancy, it is evident that this tension will persist.
Sara Al-Madani returns to the show with her usual mysterious and enigmatic demeanor. This time, she brings along a healer, following the Bravo trend of featuring white individuals with cryptic ethnic tattoos who promote their “spirituality” ventures. I empathize with Sara’s personal journey as she tries to heal from past experiences of abuse and infidelity. I can understand her determination to improve herself and provide a better life for her son by any means necessary. However, it is difficult to take seriously a white man leading a “cord-cutting ceremony.” Sara’s persistent approach to healing also explains her ongoing clashes with Ayan. Ayan is a strong personality, fully embracing her uniqueness, but her traumas run deep and have been long-lasting. From experiencing xenophobia and female genital mutilation to reliving cultural and religious trauma on an international stage, Ayan’s behavior may not be rational, but it sheds light on the challenges she faces.
Her sensitivity is rooted in a sense of insecurity and a lack of trust in many people. As a result, it is understandable that she perceives Sara’s comments about Ayan’s traumas being shared with the press as a betrayal, even if those comments may be relatively mild, such as suggesting that traumas should not excuse bad behavior. Ayan and Sara are on different paths in their healing journeys, and Ayan is bound to face numerous challenges as she tries to come to terms with her struggles. Unfortunately, Sara is ill-equipped to provide the support Ayan needs on this path.

Overall, the new Bravo season is off to a promising start and offers a much-needed break from the scandal-driven chaos that plagues the rest of the Bravo franchise. The drama remains as inconsequential as ever, the locations are stunning, and Ayan’s fashion choices continue to be more and more extravagant (the transparent magenta chiffon dress with matching platform pumps was particularly excessive). I’m excited to continue watching this season with all of you. Until next week!