Ikea, one of the world’s largest producers of home furniture, has photoshopped women out of the catalogues that had been distributed throughout Saudi Arabia. Because of this, the problem has been affecting the name of the company and many people had been reacting to it negatively.
As a female, I find it very offensive for them to exclude women from photos. It makes me wonder: why on earth are they presenting men but not women? It is truly against our fundamental human rights and it exhibits discrimination against us. This only shows that they are showing gender inequality and are only viewing women as objects to be removed easily and are not seen as human beings. It seems that the significance of women has been overlooked and as the now-famous saying goes, “women’s rights are human rights” that is to say, women are entitled to all of these rights. Yet almost everywhere around the world, women and girls are still denied them, often simply because of their gender. The Saudi franchisee of Ikea invalidates Ikea’s commitment to gender equality and their principles. Personally, I think they didn’t even wear anything inappropriate or seductive that would attract lustful attention to the photo. In other words, it’s sexist. I can’t see why women have to be rid from Saudi Arabian catalogues and they deserve to be treated equally, fair and square like men. 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 Ikea’s principles and values, that’s completely wrong.
But putting that aside, when you look at the cultural beliefs of the Saudi Arabians, it is different from what the people outside the said country believe in. Women in their country are said to be conservative and are very strict when it comes to clothing, therefore, not showing their whole face but only their eyes and covering the rest of their body with long sleeves, scarves and clothing that would cover most of their skin.
Regarding Ikea, in business talk, I think it was a very professional move for them to be knowledgeable of a country first and to have the consideration when it comes to promoting their franchise worldwide. It was a good marketing strategy. When it comes to handling a huge franchise like Ikea, you, yourself, should know the boundaries in publishing content advertising your products. Knowing and thinking of how it can affect and who is viewing your catalogues is a must because it is a part of respecting the buyers and in order to do that, you should be considerate when it comes to knowing your customers’ tradition and culture. They had to be open-minded, sensitive and aware for they are managing business internationally.
Outside the country, the issue came out as offensive but within the Muslim country, it was a privilege since they are dominated by strict religious laws. In dealing with matters like these, it is important to know and to be open to both sides. Ikea already apologized and has released a statement expressing regret concerning this situation. We all have different beliefs and point of views and we need to respect one another. It will only initiate chaos if we can’t accept our differences and will keep opposing or arguing of who’s right and who’s not. As much as I think it is wrong for Ikea to have the removal of these women from Saudi Arabian catalogs, I also understand why they did the latter.