[QODLink]
Europe
Swedish firm erases women in Saudi catalogue
Furniture giant IKEA criticised after women and girls were airbrushed out of its Saudi Arabian catalogue.
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2012 16:08
Sweden's Metro newspaper showed that women had been airbrushed out of the company's Saudi catalogue [AP]

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has landed itself in hot water in its home country after women and girls were airbrushed out of some of the pictures in its Saudi Arabian catalogue.

A local version of IKEA's yearly catalogue, published on its Saudi website, shows images that are identical to those in other editions save for one detail: the women are gone.

"We are looking into the issue and holding a dialogue with our Saudi franchise holder," said Ulrika Englesson Sandman, a spokesperson for Inter IKEA Systems, which owns the IKEA trademark and concept.

When entering a new market the company always takes into account the ability to balance local culture and legislation with its own values, she added.

Gender gap

The removal of women from the pages of the Saudi edition, including a young girl who was pictured studying at her desk, has prompted a strong response from Swedes, who pride themselves on egalitarian policies and a narrow gender gap.

"You can't remove or airbrush women out of reality. If Saudi Arabia does not allow women to be seen or heard, or to work, they are letting half their intellectual capital go to waste," Ewa Bjoerling, the trade minister, said in a statement.

Her sentiment was echoed by Swedish European Union minister Birgitta Ohlsson, who branded the incident "medieval" on social networking site Twitter.

Saudi Arabia applies strict rules of gender segregation, banning women from driving and requiring them to have permission from a male guardian before travelling or receiving medical care.

IKEA's Saudi franchise partner currently operates three stores in the country, where it has seen "double digit" yearly growth over the past five years, according to its website.

280

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The new military government has issued warnings that it will soon start to clampdown on immigration offenders.
As Snowden awaits Russian visa renewal, the world mulls role of NSA and expects more revelations from document trove.
A handful of agencies that provide tours to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea say business is growing.
A political power struggle masquerading as religious strife grips Nigeria - with mixed-faith couples paying the price.
The current surge in undocumented child migrants from Central America has galvanized US anti-immigration groups.
join our mailing list