As The Real Housewives of Dubai gains steam, Chanel Ayan is reigning supreme as the breakout star from the series. While Chanel is sharing the stage with Nina Ali, Caroline Brooks, Sara Al Madani, Lesa Milan, and Caroline Stanbury, there’s no question that her segments are the ones luring a fandom into obsession. Chanel’s introduction was deemed iconic from the jump, and as the more episodes air, the more it’s clear that she is carrying a show that wouldn’t work without her.
Chanel’s no stranger to breaking barriers. She’s “the first black supermodel in Dubai” with Versace, Cartier, and Dolce Gabbana campaigns under her belt, along with several Vogue covers. However, her commitment to her friendships, family, and herself is even more impressive. Chanel described a challenging upbringing before leaving her small village behind at 18-years-old. Chanel left her fiancé a few weeks before her wedding when she fell for her husband Chris, who paid her dowry. While her mom was infuriated at the time, she grew to love him.
The reality star told her audience in RHODubai’s first five minutes that she’s a “bad b**h” in four languages, and she’s proven it in every moment since. While Chanel’s risen to the forefront of the storyline, Texas native Nina and Sara have fallen on the back burner. Meanwhile, Stanbury’s messy relationship with her fianceé Sergio is fighting for screen time but lacks enough chemistry or toxicity on either end to fully grab the audience’s attention. Chanel’s tagline, “They don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. They hate me because they are basic,” feels like a direct dig at Stanbury and her lackluster aura. Chanel even joked on Instagram, “Be like the sun keep on shinning [sic] and let them burn.”
If Chanel is free, fun, confident, and utterly enthralling, Stanbury’s presence on the cast is validated by the need for a foil. The choice to put Stanbury at the center stage next to Chanel in the opening credits seems entrenched in a need to create a plotline. However, centering the only white cast member also seems archaic, especially considering Chanel and Lesa’s more significant presence on RHODubai. When Stanbury got mad that Sergio was being friendly with Lesa, she asked if Lesa wanted to “suck his d**k.” Chanel and Lesa’s breakdown of the incident was the best part. While the stiff British attitude and emotionally stifling boarding school upbringing didn’t yield the most charismatic personality, Stanbury is still causing more drama than Sara or Nina.
Chanel and Lesa poked holes in Stanbury’s and Sergio’s relationship from the start. While the beautiful but odd couple’s drama crept up at Chanel’s birthday dinner, it couldn’t steal the spotlight from the gorgeous model. Chanel’s humor, overwhelmingly stunning fashion, and love for her family shined brighter than Stanbury’s resistance to getting to know her in-laws, which Nina called problematic. As Brooks noted, some people like Stanbury, and some think “she’s a raging b**ch.” Meanwhile, Chanel, Chris, and their son Taj looked on bemused. “I give it dos, uno dos, anos,” joked Chanel about Sergio and Stanbury’s marriage in her interview.
Chanel is anchoring RHODubai. Her commentary in her interviews and with Lesa creates all the tea, and not even Lisa Rinna could escape her witty authority. Meanwhile, Brooks, Sara, and Nina create a framework for the show filling out the variety of Dubai lifestyles. Then Stanbury gives Chanel and Lesa something to talk about, for better or worse. If there’s one to watch, it’s Chanel, and she’ll make sure everyone knows it.