Ikea left out pictures of women in its Saudi catalog

STOCKHOLM — Ikea is being criticized for deleting images of women from the Saudi version of its furniture catalog, a move the company says it regrets.

Comparing the Swedish and Saudi versions of the catalog, free newspaper Metro on Monday showed that women had been airbrushed out of otherwise identical pictures showcasing the company’s home furnishings.

The report raised questions in Sweden about Ikea’s commitment to gender equality, and the company released a statement expressing “regret” over the issue.

“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,” the company said.

Women appear only infrequently in Saudi-run advertising., mostly on Saudi-owned TV channels that show women in long dresses, scarves covering their hair and long sleeves. In imported magazines, censors black out many parts of a woman’s body including arms, legs and chest.

When Starbucks opened its coffee shops in the conservative, Muslim kingdom, it removed the alluring, long-haired woman from its logo, keeping only her crown.

Ikea’s Saudi catalog, which is also available online, looks the same as other editions of the publication, except for the absence of women.

One picture shows a family apparently getting ready for bed, with a young boy brushing his teeth in the bathroom. However, a pajama-clad woman standing next to the boy is missing from the Saudi version.

Another picture of a five women dining has been removed altogether in the Saudi edition.

Swedish equality minister Nyamko Sabuni noted that Ikea is a private company that makes its own decisions, but added that it also projects an image of Sweden around the world.

“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,” Sabuni told The Associated Press.

Ikea Group, one of the many branches in the company’s complicated corporate structure, said it had produced the catalog for a Saudi franchisee outside the group.

“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,” it said.

More in Local News

A wobbly calf grows into a 1,800-pound Lake Stevens behemoth

A shaggy and sometimes cranky bison is the last of his herd. He lives amid encroaching suburbia.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Officials ID man shot and killed in apparent Everett robbery

Police believe the victim may have known the shooter, who drove away before the officers arrived.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

Missing Marysville woman found safe out of state

A Marysville senior who was reported missing in March has… Continue reading

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Front Porch

EVENTS Seahawks event postponed A Toys for Tots Blue Friday fundraiser that… Continue reading

Volunteers clean up homeless camp infested with garbage

The organization’s founder used to live and do drugs in the same woods.

Fire crew returns early from wildfires in Northern California

Four Everett firefighters returned from battling California wildfires late Thursday… Continue reading

Most Read