Sweden’s free newspaper Metro compared the Swedish and Saudi versions of the Ikea catalogue, which showed that women had been airbrushed out of pictures showcasing the company’s home furnishings.
One picture had eliminated a mother wearing pajamas, who in the Swedish version had been shown with a young boy brushing his teeth. Another, which showed five women dining together has been removed altogether in the Saudi edition.
Women rarely appear in advertising campaigns in Saudi Arabia, and if they do, only wearing loose long dresses, scarves covering their hair and long sleeves.
Swedish equality minister Nyamko Sabuni said: “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 about Ikea’s principles and values – that’s completely wrong,”
Ikea responded with a statement saying “We should have reacted and realised that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict 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 Catalogue worldwide,”