Vogue Arabia in Hot Water for Featuring ‘Xenophobic’ Kuwaiti MP on Cover

Published September 17th, 2019 - 11:17 GMT
(Al Bawaba)
(Al Bawaba)

Vogue Arabia has, again, provoked an outcry for featuring Safaa al-Hashem, a Kuwaiti member of parliament who is known for her racist and arrogant rhetoric against immigrants in Kuwait.

The MP has repeatedly called for imposing taxes on all the services provided to expatriates and foreign workers in Kuwait. The latest remarks were made last week when Hashem said expatriates should have to pay for “the air they breathe”. She previously also called to “purify” Kuwait through measures that would ban foreign workers from driving or of wives granted citizenship for marrying Kuwaiti men.

In Kuwait, where 70% of the population is made up of expatriates, the xenophobic sentiment repeatedly made by MP Hashem has been unacceptable for many who called on  her to resign.

While social media activists have criticized the MP for her repeated racist remarks, Vogue Arabia has chosen her to be featured on the magazine cover, highlighting her sense of fashion and hairstyle.

Kuwaitis and women rights activists in the Middle East have strongly criticized Vogue Arabia for their choice that does not represent reality.

Some have accused Vogue’s staff and writers of “ignorance” and being detached from reality and the current events taking place in other contexts.

This is not the first time Vogue Arabia sparks controversy and anger.

Earlier in 2018, the magazine has dedicated one of its editions to the "trailblazing women of Saudi Arabia” and featured the Saudi Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud, the daughter of the late King Abdullah, wearing high heels and leather gloves behind the wheels.

This came at a time when several Saudi women activists had been arrested in the kingdom.

In February 2011, Vogue Arabia has also been criticized for a cover that features Asma Assad, the first lady of Syria, and the wife of the dictator Bashar Assad. Vogue faced backlash over the article that praises Asma Assad as “A Rose in the Desert.” The article invoked a backlash and all references to it were removed from Vogue's website a few weeks later without explanation.


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