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Women Erased From IKEA's Saudi Catalog; Company Apologizes

Click through Swedish furniture giant IKEA's U.S. (online here) and Saudi (online here) catalogs.

You'll find all the same stuff.

But you won't find women in the Saudi catalog.

The company is apologizing for what somebody (the person or persons haven't been identified) must have thought was a way to make sure IKEA didn't offend any shoppers in a male-dominated country where women are supposed to cover themselves in public, still aren't allowed to drive and lack other rights that are basic in many other countries. All images of women (more than a dozen) have been digitally erased in the Saudi version.

As ABC News' Business blog reports:

"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," Ikea says in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal adds that:

"This is the second time in less than two weeks that IKEA's marketing photos have stirred political controversy.

"The company, looking to avoid a potential political fallout, on Sept. 21 deleted a photo from its Russian corporate Web page showing four young people in balaclavas that could have been viewed as a gesture of support for three jailed members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot. The deleted photo was part of a Russian marketing campaign that included a photo competition in Russian MEGA shopping malls, which receive about 200 million visitors per year."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.