IKEA, the worldwide Swedish furniture retailer, has come under fire from its home country for airbrushing women out of its catalogs in Saudi Arabia, though it was not the corporate store that censored the catalog. IKEA Saudi Arabia is run by a franchisee outside the IKEA Group. But the corporate store has responded, saying it regrets the incident.
IKEA says in a statement, “‘As a producer of the catalog, we regret the current situation. We should have reacted to the exclusion of women from
the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog since it does not align with
the IKEA Group values. We are now reviewing our routines to
safeguard a correct content presentation from a values point of view in
the different versions of the IKEA catalog worldwide.”
The women were removed due to the conservative Islamic attitude towards women, who are not allowed to drive and must have the consent of a male guardian before they can travel abroad, work or study.
IKEA’s statement also says the company supports ”the fundamental human rights
of all people” and does not “accept any kind of discrimination.”
European Union Minister Ewa Bjorling says in an email to Reuters, “If Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow women to be seen, heard or to work, they
lose out on half of their intellectual capital. This shows they still
have a long way to go to reach equality between women and men in Saudi