As of 2015, only 13% of the Saudi Arabian workforce consists of women and the country ranked 141st out of 144 countries for gender parity according to The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Report. Although women were allowed to vote in the 2015 local elections, as well as to be appointed to the Consultative Assembly for the first time, it would still be preposterous for a woman to appear in a bikini on an advertising photo in Saudi Arabia, as proven by a recent redesign of a commercial for the Saudi market.
A campaign promoting above ground swimming pools manufactured by Californian-based firm Intex Corp was launched in Saudi, which specializes in pools and airbeds and inflatable spas, but not before the woman bathing in the pool was covered up in the most peculiar of ways.
In the Saudi Arabian version of the advertisement, run by local hardware giant SACO, the woman has been replaced with a Winnie the Pooh inflatable ball, while the children and the man have been clothed in t-shirts.
“Don’t miss out and visit our shops for a large selection of swimming pools at SACO,” the text on the flyer roughly translates into English.
Here are some of the funnier comments on social media:
My eyes just popped out. What on earth is this monstrosity?
— VISHAL (@VishalManve12) June 5, 2017
Having grew up in Saudi, I have a rake of gems in my collection, including cookbooks with pork and alcohol related terms blanked out!
— David Robert Grimes (@drg1985) June 6, 2017
.@SilentRuins the way the kids look at their ball mama is so sad 😭
— Saman Shad (@muminprogress) June 5, 2017
dude in the actual stores, they just put black tape everywhere 😂
— rawan (@rawan_antar) June 4, 2017
After a similar story made headlines back in 2012, Swedish furniture giants IKEA had to publicly apologize for removing women from their Saudi catalogue after the Metro compared the Swedish and Saudi versions and found every woman had been taken out of the booklet.
— おっぱい ⚡ (@gungde) October 2, 2012
“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,” a statement from the company read.
Coffee-brewing giants Starbucks also had to compromise in order to be allowed access to the Saudi market. The chain had to edit its iconic logo for its coffeehouses in the Western Asian country, with the crest showing only the crown, without the famous long-haired siren that wears it in the rest of the world.