It started with Leila Trabelsi, the wife of President Ben Ali the Arab worlds answer to Imelda Marcos, the Lady Macbeth of Tunisia, who allegedly made off with copious amounts of gold after the uprising that ousted her husband. Attention then shifted to Suzanne Mubarak, Egypts ex-first lady, who shares her husbands estimated $70bn fortune. In the wake of King Abdullahs dismissal of the government in Jordan this month, the latest Arab Wag in the spotlight is Queen Rania. Last week she was the subject of an unprecedented attack by a group of Jordanian tribal figures complaining about the ruling family and widespread corruption. According to the statement, the queen and her sycophants and the power centres that surround her are dividing Jordanians and stealing from the country and the people. As the wave of dissent sweeping the region puts Arab presidents and monarchs under the spotlight, their wives are also being scrutinised for their lavish lifestyles and interference in politics. Queen Rania in particular, a regular frow (front row) fixture at fashion shows in Paris and Milan and Giorgio Armanis muse is well known for her fashion credentials and her Tatler-like lifestyle. Feted in the west, Rania is queen of one of the poorest countries in the region. Most first ladies in the Arab countries are western educated (Suzanne Mubarak is half British) and thus are more comfortable in western circles of diplomacy and royalty. While they may be beautiful, articulate and impeccably styled ambassadors, on their home turf they often appear out of touch with the concerns of citizens. In the oil-rich Gulf states, due to generally high living standards, the indulgences of first ladies (often more than one per monarch) do not particularly grate. When Gulf Wags do make a rare outing, they are mostly noted for their style. Sheikha Moza of Qatar caused a frenzy last year with her icicle-heeled Chanel boots on a state visit to the UK. While there is nothing uncommon about the wives of political leaders coming under scrutiny for their appearance (Michelle Obamas choices of dress and designer are in the headlines almost as often as her husbands policy making), Arab first ladies are even more celebrated in the west for their exotic take on western styles. While it is understandable that Queen Ranias international jetsetting, along with her large palace office and entourage, might be provocative to some Jordanians, the local criticisms of her are not devoid of prejudice. The queen is of Palestinian origin, part of a Palestinian emigre community in Jordan that has an often tense relationship with native Jordanians. Old-fashioned misogyny also creeps into the discourse: a youthful, tweeting, Armani-clad, charity-sponsoring queen does not go down well with the traditional tribal leaders who wield considerable power in the country. Since public criticism of the king and the institution of monarchy is taboo in Jordan (and carries a penalty of three years imprisonment), the queen also provides a softer target. Those who criticised her last week were actually firing a warning salvo aimed at the king. Queen Rania talks eloquently about change and womens rights on Oprah, yet Jordans human rights record under the stewardship of her husband has been poor. Most tragically, Jordan still has the highest incidence of honour killings in the Arab world and, according to Amnesty Internationals 2010 report on Jordan, perpetrators of such killings continued to benefit from inappropriately lenient sentences. Irrespective of whether the attack on Queen Rania is fair, it is increasingly clear that the wives of kings and presidents across the Arab world are being seen and treated as an extension of the unaccountable regimes presided over by their husbands. Guardian