The philosophy about women and girls in Saudi Arabia can be pretty much summed up as “10,000 BC” or, if you’re historically challenged, “Chicks ruin everything”. The latest evidence for this came up when the Swedish publication Metro (who publish their free paper across the globe) posted comparisons of the Swedish IKEA catalog, shown below…
…and the Saudi Arabian edition, shown below:
The women in Saudi Arabia’s Ikea catalogs have all gone missing. Not just the women modelling with the furniture and home and office goods, but even the the female designer of Ikea’s cheap-and-cheerful “PS” line of furniture and sundry home items.
As of this writing, it’s still unclear where the decision to make a special “No Girls Allowed” edition came from. Ikea HQ in Sweden, may have figured that the extra expense and participating in Saudi Arabia’s gender apartheid was worth those sweet, sweet petro-bucks, or it may have been the Saudi Arabian franchise who made the call.
Ikea has released a standard-issue “statement expessing regret”. According to AP News, they said:
“We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the Ikea Group values.”
AP News also quotes Sweden’s Equality Minister Nyamko Sabuni, who said:
“For Ikea to remove an important part of Sweden’s image and an important part of its values in a country that more than any other needs to know about about Ikea’s principles and values – that’s completely wrong.”
Metro has this quote from Swedish Trade Minister Ewa Björling:
“It’s impossible to retouch women out of reality. These images are yet another regrettable example that shows we have a long road ahead when it comes to gender equality in Saudi Arabia.”
These sorts of Saudi shenanigans shouldn’t surprise anyone. Consider the Saudi edition of the Starbucks logo…
…or the fact that women aren’t allowed to drive there. The ban was unofficial and only turned into an actual law in 1990 when a convoy of 47 women defiantly drove cars through the capital. In a bit of Flintstones-meets-Jetsons strangeness, women are allowed to fly planes — they’re just not allowed to drive to the airport. Women pilots are chauffeured there. For the curious, Wikipedia has a quick summary of Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia, and it ain’t pretty.