Author First name, Last name, Institution

Sarah Hopkyns, Zayed University

Document Type


Source of Publication

Gulf Education and Social Policy Review (GESPR)

Publication Date



The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic shifts in education worldwide. In the spring of 2020, universities abruptly moved to emergency remote teaching and learning (ERT&L), with online and hybrid education continuing into the post-pandemic era. In the Gulf, cultural, religious, and sociolinguistic dynamics can present additional challenges for teaching and learning online. Reluctance to use cameras due to modesty, privacy, and E-safety concerns, amongst others, affects interaction and rapport. This article presents empirical data from a qualitative phenomenological case study investigating male and female Emirati university students’ (n = 107) perspectives on access, interaction, and engagement during Zoom classes in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. Students’ reflective essays and researcher observations revealed that intersecting factors, such as gender, religion, culture, linguistic challenges in English-medium universities, and fear of judgment, affected participants’ comfort levels and learning effectiveness in online classes. Data are analyzed through interpretive phenomenological analysis and the analytical tool of intersectionality, through which complexities of learner identities are explored. Practical suggestions are made on adapting online and hybrid learning to suit the sociocultural realities of Gulf states better by enhancing interaction and engagement in online classes without compromising comfort, E-safety, and privacy in post-pandemic education




Knowledge E DMCC

First Page


Last Page





E-learning, COVID-19, higher education, intersectionality, culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy, UAE

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Indexed in Scopus


Open Access


Open Access Type

Gold: This publication is openly available in an open access journal/series

Included in

Education Commons