By Nada Hamouda
Vogue Arabia’s June edition has stirred a huge controversy as it featured a Saudi Princess behind a wheel on the front cover. The photos hit the market while some Saudi Women rights’ activists who fought to lift the ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia remain in custody.
The cover shows Princess Hayfa, daughter of the late King Abdullah al-Saud, in the driver’s seat wearing leather gloves and high heels. “The photo shoot in ‘the dancing sands of the desert of Dhahban’, outside Jiddah, was of great meaning for the Arab world as it celebrates the exciting and progressive changes transforming the Kingdom and the female empowerment,” Vogue Arabia’s Editor-in-Chief, Manuel Arnaut, said.
This controversial photo session coincides with the change of policy in the Saudi kingdom aiming to loosen social and religious restrictions, as the Saudi government announced that the ban on women driving is to end in June. Nevertheless, the conservative kingdom has previously allowed women to go to cinemas and attend football matches in stadiums.
Some people who criticized the cover took to Twitter and replaced the princess’s face with those of jailed activists.