Vogue Arabia sparks anger with cover featuring Saudi princess while women activists remain in jail

Vogue Arabia sparks anger with cover featuring Saudi princess while women activists remain in jail

Vogue Arabia has been criticised for its June cover featuring a Saudi princess to celebrate the “trailblazing women of Saudi Arabia”, published just after a dozen women’s rights activists were arrested.
The magazine’s cover, unveiled on social media platforms on Wednesday, features Princess Hayfa Bint Abdullah Al Saud, daughter of the late King Abdullah, sitting in a vintage Mercedes convertible along with the caption “Driving Force”.
The image was met with immediate condemnation by people pointing out that although the conservative kingdom is set to lift the longstanding driving ban for women on 24 June, a dozen or so women’s rights activists have just been arrested on charges of “encroaching on religious and national constants”. “These Saudi princesses have never done anything for women’s rights in their country. Now they are cover girls portraying strong women and talking about the right to drive! And real activists are being questioned and jailed,” one Twitter user wrote. “What a f*cked up world.”
“These Saudi women aren’t your ‘liberated desert princesses’”, said another.
“They’ve clearly only been permitted to be on the cover of Vogue to make Saudi more palatable to the West to encourage foreign [money].” Blogger Eman al-Nafjan, activists Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef (aged 70 and one of the country’s longtime advocates for women’s right to drive), Aisha al-Manea, Madiha Al-Ajroush, Walaa al-Shubbar and Hasah al-Sheikh, as well as male campaigners Ibrahim Modeimigh, Mohammed al-Rabe and Abdulaziz al-Meshaal, were arrested on 18 May.
Two or three are thought to have been released since, but details are thin on the ground. Several of the detainees have not been allowed contact with their lawyers or family and their whereabouts are unknown.