IKEA Deletes The Images Of Women From Catalogue In Saudi Arabia

People looking at the IKEA catalogue in Saudi Arabia thought that there seemed something was missing: women. IKEA decided to airbrush out every picture of women in the catalogue while leaving men and children. In one example of the deletion the father, daughter and son are still shown in a bathroom scene but the mother has been removed. The ultimate symbol of women being invisible in the Kingdom.

The decision to make women vanished to satisfy Saudi sensibilities has caused an understandable ruckus in Sweden. The company expressed “regret” over the incident and said that “excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the IKEA Group values.”

Notably, IKEA is not alone. Starbucks in Saudi Arabia do not even show its classic symbol of a woman with flowing hair. It appears that even that fairly abstract image was too much for males in the Kingdom. One glimpse at the icon would have sent men insane with uncontrollable impulses in buying a latte.

When Starbucks used its standard logo in Egypt, it was boycotted not because of the image of a woman but because the woman was claimed to be Esther, a Jewish biblical figure. The cleric warned followers:

“The girl in the Starbucks logo is Queen Esther. Do you know who Queen Esther was and what the crown on her head means? This is the crown of the Persian kingdom. This queen is the queen of the Jews. She is mentioned in the Torah, in the Book of Esther. The girl you see is Esther, the queen of the Jews in Persia.”

Not that it matters to such religious extremists but the image is actually taken from a 15th-century Norse woodcut. By the way, in case you are grumbling about extremists Muslims, keep in mind Christian groups in the United States boycotted the original image as too exhibitionist. Some pastors charged Starbucks as secretly pushing an occult image while others say the image shows the company should be called “Slutbucks.” In a more recent controversy, pastors are calling for a boycott over the company’s pro-same-sex marriage stand. As a regular Starbucks consumer, the only thing I find offensive is paying this much for a cup of coffee.

Source: Wall Street Journal

34 thoughts on “IKEA Deletes The Images Of Women From Catalogue In Saudi Arabia

  1. You should have mentioned that far worse is happening in JERUSALEM, where Orthodox Jews routinely tear down and deface all ads/poster/billboards that show anything female, even children. Feel free to Google it.

    You simply cannot have ads showing women in the public area. Because lunatic Jews will destroy them.

    But… I guess the clicks only come when Muzzies do something “bad”…

  2. Many right wing extremists in the US have requested copies oh the Saudi style catalogue. It exemplifies their view of the what the place of women in American society should be.

    Shall we set aside another billion to make sure we keep the Saudis especially their ruling family safe? After all they are such friends of the US.

  3. “The decision to make women vanished to satisfy Saudi sensibilities . . . .”

    Does Turley not bother to even read the links to the stories he writes about?

    The linked WSJ article states “Representatives for Swedish furniture giant IKEA on Monday apologized for removing women from some of the photos in catalogs shipped to Saudi Arabia, and said the blame lies squarely with them” and “Ms. Englesson Sandman said the omissions were completely needless since Saudi Arabia doesn’t prohibit women from being depicted in marketing material.”

    This is a story about IKEA doing something stupid, Not about Saudi Arabia prohibiting pictures of women.

  4. Waldo,

    How naive you are and will always be. Now don’t take that personally. Promise? Good boy.

    This is known as coverup, taking the hit to keep the customer relation. Could you not figure that out.

    Oh, there was no letter or other official communication, so they had just accepted the very small hint from an important person, and swallowed the bitter pill.

    They knew that most of the world would know what really happened. And then there is the upswing in orders from the rednecks.

  5. Hey, re airbrushing

    Air brushing costs money. This is called taking planned market adapted extra shots. Just change people, props, take away, add….etc.

    Who knows, maybe the California edition is different from the NE USA Ikea catalogue. I mean not just pictures, but products offered, and the barbage written and the pics taken.

    Remember, we learned about propaganda. This is related. I once produced a whole brochure to flatter a client whose order we needed. Paid a copywriter to come from England and fly to the customers land to inhale the atmosphere.

  6. “You simply cannot have ads showing women in the public area. Because lunatic Jews will destroy them.
    But… I guess the clicks only come when Muzzies do something “bad”…”

    Tom actually most people on this blog are equal opportunity critics of all of the craziness of Religious Fundamentalist Zealots. Be they Jews, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, Scientologists or Hindi’s etc.

  7. But… every single comment is about how crazy the Saudis/Muslims are… Even though the action was taken by IKEA, presumably a Christian-owned company (I honestly don’t know; just taking a guess).

    And no press is given when Orthodox Jews tear down billboards, posters, attack buses, etc…

  8. Mike S.,

    Yep … we jump on anybody … I really want to know why Ikea brushed out the Asian appearing guy. Who did they think he was going to offend? Or, would he just have looked crazy smiling at an empty space in front of him?

  9. Retraction or redaction????

    With very little afterthought I realize that “airbrushing” is a generic term fot modifying an image. What with the everexpanding possibilities of computerized image generation, including combining different elements, this is easy, or at least can be done cheaply.

    Stock shot publishers abound.

    Would it not have been cool if by mistake(?) a belly dancer had been “dropped” into the Saudi kitchen scene.

    Or a Saudi clad father, in full regalia, hookah in reach, and flipping flapjacks with his admiring boys around him.

  10. Tom Stedham,
    “,,,And no press is given when Orthodox Jews tear down billboards, posters, attack buses, etc…”

    Gonna be cool to see what answers you get on that. Let me be PC in an inverse way, and say it is PC to avoid that subject. An expression of dominance.
    And playing to Prof Turley’s well known hatred of medieval cultures, most notably the muslim variety.

    That’s his and their privilege. As some “bon mots” utterer said: “Justice is not fair. It is legal.”

    And that goes for lots beside justice.

    I usuallt defend the muslims or as I say try to cast another light. But here I have my own take expressed above. Market adaptation.

    As for IKEA having a Christian ownership.
    Ingmar Kamprad is I believe a firm Christian, coming from Småland as he does.

    But I think he says his prayers to his money each night, and maybe even five times a day too.

  11. I agree it is “PC” to avoid “that subject”… Or, as I like to call it: “cowardice.” But I didn’t come here to stir up a tempest. I enjoy about 99% of the Professor’s posts.

    I am a journalist (a “real”, professional one), trained in the old-school method of balance. It’s currently fashionable and trendy to bash anything done by/for Muslims, like the “no sharia law” craze sweeping the right wing.

    All I’m saying is: do a post about what is happening in Jerusalem. You know, for “balance”…

  12. Frankly,

    Not challenging, no dates needed, no proof, I trust you etc. Can you recall a blog here expressing negative things about orthodox jews or other jewish activities?

    I mean it has been mentioned, particularly the brand of child sexual abuse and of those who expose them, which was alleged to be common among the Hassidic jews in Brooklyn, but a blog? How about that?

  13. Agreed. But to call oneself a prof real journalist.
    Isn’t that dangerous? My impression of balanced reporters is that they don’t get published (or hired anymore). Or that they are fireball ídealists who do all but kamikaze errands in the middle east, Syrian latest. The PP winner died this year coming back from the mission for the NYTimes.

    “….fashionable and trendy…” Isn’t that all today that gets or buys space.

    You know the media better than I. Try the Jerusalem Post.

    Cultivating religious insanity, whatever the religion is similar, don’t you think?

  14. Tom,

    No, we don’t do blog posts for “balance.” Authors post articles about subjects that catch their interest. There are plenty of articles posted about Bibi the Elder, and his daily “Iran Must Be Destroyed” rants.

    There’s already plenty of diversity of opinion, here.

  15. Religion = insanity. I wonder where these men think they would be without women? Do they think their god would keep making carbon copies of themselves and plopping them down on earth to continue this ‘bullschitt’?

  16. What a good way to show the comfort of home, without the people that is.

    Wait? Wern’t women supposed to be IN the home and not in public? I thought the burqua could come off in the home. Guess women are to disappear now completely.

  17. A woman in the home is not to be seen but by family, female close friends and where the border when it concerns relatives varies.
    Picturing a strange woman (the photo model) violates that principle. Many mixed emotions, both in women and men catalogue viewers.

    And I’ve never had a course in cultural sensitivity.

    You were facetious I hope Darren?

  18. Woah, are grown-ups really doing all this?

    Queen Esther was not “Queen of the Jews,” by the way. She became a queen upon marriage to King Achashveros of Persia. So what happened was that Esther was a woman, and King Achashveros married her, and she therefore became a queen.

    Does Starbucks itself claim that their logo is Queen Esther? For real? How weird. I would have thought the logo would be a picture of the Saint of Caffeine Breaks. ;-)

  19. MAlisha,

    Did you not see that Starrybucks claim it is after a Nordic goddess. And we did not have coffee then. But we are number two after Finland in pounds per person per year.

    For goodness sakes, don’t tell me that Starbucks knows nordic mythology.

  20. I suppose the Sears and Roebuck catalog is strictly forbidden there. I do believe in my youth I found the Ladies undergarment section fascinating.
    :) …… maybe I’ll google it later to reminiscence !!!

    On a serious note, what is the stated reason and logic for the “invisibilty” of the female figure ? Do Muslim males not go through a maturing stage ?
    Is this planned misogyny in guise of religious piety ?

    Was Ashcroft secretly Muslim ? Is Lady Liberty really just a seductress ?

    Thank goodness for the inanity of some beliefs, they allow myself to think at times that I am not totally inane.

  21. Most beliefs were held to be good, otherwise nobody would have accepted them.

    Mohammed was forced to flee Mecca, his family town, because he believed he was taught by an angel who gave the monotheistic message. In contrast to the polytheism of the many sorts existing then.

    I hope our muslim guide can help us with your question. My answer would be cursory and not well anchored at all.

    I am inspired suddenly by what Malisha said about kindergarten art lesson, when the teacher decided to say “Nobody get to paint”.

    Well, the prior to muslim practices I am sure since Abraham’s time, the woman was forced to hide her charms, and in Arab desert it developed to diminish mens temptations. So Mohammaed had only to endorse an existing social custom, and put it in god’s mouth in the guise of modesty. This has since gone on and on. Women were definitely workers, and clothing had to let them work. But they were then confined to their homes to work, etc. That is about all I can offer, other than it is said that veils were not Arabic in origin. But that Mhmds wives were tired of being petitioned for help, and asked to be allowed to use he Persian veil to distinguish them and thus warn off petitioners. So goes the story.

  22. The U.S.eh? and England are a said to be a family separated by a common language.

    The woman in the Starbucks Logo means “No Milk Today“, because the Book of Esther is the only book of the Protestant Bible that does not have the word “God” in it.

    IKEA you not.

  23. Tom Stedham, There aren’t special rules for new posters and the only rule maker is JT- it’s his house. He posts what catches his eye and doesn’t lay off, or on, any particular type of subject. Of late one might think he has made Florida a special project for ridicule but that’s not so, they have simply supplied an embarrassment of riches for postings. :-) There’s no tit-for-tat, story topics ebb and flow with what’s happening or what catches the Professor’s eye. You will be challenged on your argument/POV but you need not take advice on any ‘rules’ or JT’s POV from other than JT. In that regard the former is non-existent unless you are so totally out of line or lacking in self-control as to be destructive to the blawg; the later you can infer from reading the archives or sticking around.

    Welcome and keep posting.

  24. Lotta,

    I would hope that your comment to Tom could be automated as a response to all as yet unencountered commenters. Good to hear. It is only fair to them and not all do the lurk and learn phase. And even that can be misinterpreted.

    I still see you under the arch with your torch held on high. Keep it up.

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