The issue emerged yesterday after freesheet Metro compared the Swedish and Saudi versions of the catalogue and showed that women had been airbrushed out of pictures showcasing the company’s products.
Ikea’s Saudi catalogue, which is also available online, looks the same as other editions of the publication, but the women have all been removed.
One picture shows a family apparently getting ready for bed, with a young boy brushing his teeth. However, a woman wearing pyjamas standing next to the boy is missing from the Saudi version.
In a statement Ikea expressed its regret, 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.”
Women appear only infrequently in Saudi advertising, while in imported magazines, censors black out many parts of a woman’s body including arms, legs and chest.
Sweden’s 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 Ikea’s principles and values, that’s completely wrong.”
“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,” Ikea added.
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