Vogue Arabia faces backlash for putting Saudi Princess on cover while women activists remain in jail

Vogue Arabia faces backlash for putting Saudi Princess on cover while women activists remain in jail

A Vogue cover featuring Saudi princess, Hayfa bint Abdullah al-Saud in the driver’s seat of a convertible, wearing leather gloves, high heels and a lo

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A Vogue cover featuring Saudi princess, Hayfa bint Abdullah al-Saud in the driver’s seat of a convertible, wearing leather gloves, high heels and a loosely tied headscarf, has prompted criticism online as its publication follows the nation’s arrest of nearly a dozen women’s right activists. The publication, the first Saudi Arabian issue, is in commemoration of the Kingdom’s June 24 removal of the ban on women drivers, as well as the celebration of trailblazing women from Saudi Arabia.

Critics point out that while the royal family continues to earn accolades for efforts to modernize the conservative Kingdom, 11 activists at the forefront of a campaign to end the gendered driving ban were detained last month. They were also smeared as “traitors” and could face charges for “undermining the country’s stability.”

But according to Amnesty International, four of the activists have since been released while others remain in detention. But in the midst of the crackdown, social media users blasted the magazine cover as tone deaf. Some on Twitter altered the cover by replacing the princess with images of the jailed rights activists.

Princess Hayfa, whose family has enforced the driving ban, told Vogue, “In our country, there are some conservatives who fear change. Personally, I support these changes with great enthusiasm.”