The Jane Austen Society Of The Emirates Just Launched And It Is Larger Than Life!

The Jane Austen Society Of The Emirates Just Launched And It Is Larger Than Life!

The Jane Austen Society Of The Emirates Just Launched And It Is Larger Than Life!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a passionate Janeite must be in want of a Jane Austen Society

Lady Luck has smiled upon you, UAE folks, because the Jane Austen Society of the Emirates has just launched – and it is absolutely to DIE for. Ladies, pull out your pearls, gloves, fancy gowns, and bonnets, and gentlemen your waistcoats and top hats – for you are cordially invited to high tea!


On the eve of Valentine’s Day, with a traditional tea party, founders Laaleen Sukhera and Cleia Peterson launched the delightful Jane Austen Society of the Emirates!

Laaleen is a British-Pakistani writer who has been running the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan, called ‘Austenistan’, for almost 6 years. The society had meetups in London, Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad so far.

“Now that I’ve moved to Dubai and it is my home, I decided to get together with my Janeite friend Cleia Peterson to co-found the Jane Austen Society of the Emirates,” says Laaleen

Photo credit: Hammad Qureshi @hgraphers/IG

Cleia Peterson, an American-Brazilian teacher, moved to Abu Dhabi two years ago. A few months ago, Laaleen messaged her and told her that she was moving to Dubai. Of course, the besties met up and decided to do something together and TA-DA, they launched Jane Austen Society of the Emirates.

At the launch, like a true Janeite, Cleia left no stone unturned. She made her own bonnet, and wore completely authentic Regency attire down to her white gloves and corset

“I cannot believe the amount of people that showed up – even the gentlemen came!” says Cleia.

Photo credit: Hammad Qureshi @hgraphers/IG

Laaleen says that it’s “more of a sister thing” and she wouldn’t call the society a book club or anything particularly literary.

“We’re more like a social group because we gather together to discuss books, characters, adaptations and all kinds of things – so it’s whimsical and fun”

Photo credit: Hammad Qureshi @hgraphers/IG

“People in Dubai are such good sports and I love it here. I love how eclectic and multicultural we are,” says Laaleen

The society usually holds dress up events only once a year but Laaleen finds that people in Dubai really enjoying dressing up.

Now that a tea party has been checked off the list, next up, the Jane Austen Society of the Emirates is planning for a Regency picnic followed by an Agatha Christie murder mystery experience. Ooh la la!

Photo credit: Hammad Qureshi @hgraphers/IG

Of course, the grand pièce de résistance of the Society is their plan for a proper ball. The founding ladies are aiming to host a grand ball soon, but they admit that it will require more time and effort

Photo credit: Hammad Qureshi @hgraphers/IG

Laaleen has loved period dramas and classics all her life –  even her senior thesis in college was related to Jane Austen. A few years ago, she published ‘Austenistan’ – an anthology written by several members of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan.

‘Austentistan’ was launched in London and was presented worldwide, including the Sharjah Book Fair

Laaleen hopes to have Austenistan translated and published in Arabic so that it can reach more people who will love it and relate to it

“I think people in Muslim countries and in the global south – we still relate to a lot of the social norms from Regency England far more than Europe and North America”

Laaleen feels “very lucky to be a part of this eclectic global community” and encouragingly welcomes new members, even if they are only newly interested and not Austen enthusiasts or experts.

“There are no judgements here – people of all ages and from all walks of life are very welcome.”

Photo credit: Hammad Qureshi @hgraphers/IG

Cleia’s husband is a US diplomat so her family moves to different countries every 2-3 years. She says that wherever she went, she found a Jane Austen Society. “I’m not kidding; it was so crazy!”

Cleia first got hooked at the age of 16 when she read Emma. The rest was history. She encouraged her children to share her passion and now her kids absolutely love Jane Austen.

“There is something that pushes people to love Austen. I don’t know what it is. But I think it’s her writing and how she did it so well – how she made fun of society so subtly and how funny she was”

Cleia also believes that it’s because the world is so overwhelmed with Hollywood’s portrayal of sexuality. “People everywhere are drawn because Austen delivers a clean, pure, and much more passionate attraction; especially for women.”

Before the pandemic, along with her family Cleia visited England every year to attend the Jane Austen Festival. And they also visited Chawton, the last place Austen lived before she passed away.

Watch out, Darcys of Dubai! The lovely ladies of the Jane Austen Society of the Emirates are out to DOMINATE!

If you are interested to join, checkout the Society’s FB page here, or join their whatsapp group by emailing

Well, ladies and gentlemen, if only Jane Austen were alive today to see how her works have influenced the world and how her reach even spread it’s way into the heart of one of the most dynamic and modern cities of the world – Dubai.


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