Notice anything different between the two IKEA ads above? One is missing the mother, and no, it wasn't intentional in as much as this wasn't some modern day notion of single parenthood: dad joyfully helping his two kids get ready for bed. But intentional, yes, because this particular ad was destined for Saudi Arabia where women are non-entities, and if they aren't covered from head to toe then they don't deserve to be seen. I guess it was easier to edit mummy out of the photo than photoshop the woman wearing a niqab.
Apparently, IKEA is not too happy with the situation-at least that's what they say- but accepts full responsibility for what happened.
"IKEA Saudi Arabia is run by a franchisee outside the IKEA Group,” the company said in their statement, but the catalogs themselves are produced by the IKEA Group for all their IKEA markets.
The Swedish company has since apologized, saying:
"We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the Ikea Group values."
“As a producer of the catalog, we regret the current situation,” IKEA added.
Additionally, IKEA removed the image of a female designer, featured in their other catalogs, who assisted in designing a line of their home furnishings.
“It’s impossible to retouch women out of reality,” Swedish Minister of Trade Ewa Björling told Metro newspaper. ”These images are yet another regrettable example that shows we have a long road ahead when it comes to gender equality in Saudi Arabia.”
But somebody thought it was a good idea.
Who knew the Saudis had an IKEA!