Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Images of Bella Hadid removed from The Dubai Mall after UAE and Saudi controversy

French label Dior has taken down perfume campaigns featuring the supermodel in the mall

UPDATE: People are throwing away Dior Beauty products in protest against Bella Hadid

She issued an apology after being accused of disrespecting the people of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but the ramifications over a controversial post on Bella Hadid's Instagram account are still being felt.

In the offending Instagram story, the supermodel appeared to press the bottom of her foot on the two nations' flags in a social media post, and now images of Hadid have been removed from the UAE's largest shopping centre.

The Dubai Mall responded on Twitter this week, after it was inundated with requests to take a stand on the issue. Hadid, who has fronted campaigns for brands such as Michael Kors, Dior Beauty and Bulgari, is regularly used in advertising imagery across the world.

"Thanks for your concern," The Dubai Mall wrote on Twitter in response to numerous petitions to remove pictures of the American-born model from stores. "We ensure you that our nation and region’s cultural sensitivities are respected. We have brought the matter to the attention of the retailers concerned to take appropriate steps."

As a result, brands such as the perfume arm of Christian Dior have taken down campaign images featuring the 22-year-old.

"For appeasement, Parfums Christian Dior has removed its visuals of Bella Hadid in The Dubai Mall," a spokesperson confirmed to The National.

Luxury brand Bulgari also told The National it didn't currently have "any campaigns running in The Dubai Mall with Bella Hadid".

The photo of Hadid's boot isn't the only thing that has upset some of her GCC fans: various accounts on Twitter also claim that she shared a New York Times op ed written by a critic of the UAE and Saudi on an Instagram story, but the alleged post is no longer visible.

The National has also reached out to other brands that have worked with Hadid, such as Versace, or multi-brand stores that stock Dior Beauty, such as Sephora, for comment.

A video of an advert featuring Hadid being removed from a store has been circulated on social media, though it has not been confirmed where the clip was filmed.

Mall of the Emirates has also issued a statement on its Twitter account following the news, revealing the recent incident "with a model for one of the brands at Mall of the Emirates is in no way associated with the mall". [Hadid's post] does not reflect our values," the Al Barsha shopping destination added.

The mall also revealed it had cancelled a planned event with Dior, in response to a follower's query.

While many of the accounts tweeting for brand boycotts of Hadid have very small followings, Emirati blogger Banat Zayed, whose Twitter account has 149,000 followers, is perhaps the most high profile account to have sent many tweets on the issue. This image shared by @BanatZayed claims to show Bella Hadid's face obscured at Sephora:

The post behind the upset was uploaded to Hadid's Instagram Stories last Monday, and showed her boot against an airport window, with planes from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, flags emblazoned on their tails, on the tarmac underneath.

Hadid, who was born to a Dutch mother and Palestinian father, swiftly deleted the image after angry comments from fans, who explained why the positioning of her foot was so disrespectful.

The model then uploaded a lengthy apology in both English and Arabic to her social media channels, expressing that her actions had “nothing to do with politics" and were the result of an "honest mistake".

"I would never want my posts or platform to be used for hate against anyone, especially those of my own beautiful and powerful heritage," she wrote. "I love and care so much about the Muslim and Arab side of my family, as well as my brothers and sisters throughout the world.”

Hadid, who has frequently spoken about her appreciation of her Palestinian roots, added that she would never knowingly speak ill of the UAE or Saudi Arabia.

“I have never and will never be the one to talk down on these countries ... Only to spread love, and the true beauty of them, as the way I was taught by my Teta and my father. To feel as if I have disappointed you is what hurts me the most.”

The model assured fans that she had not noticed the planes in the background, and her intention was never to "disrespect these airlines, let alone these amazing countries".

"I absolutely love these airlines, with the best planes and people. I want to send a sincere apology to those who ever thought I would put blame on them, especially to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

Hadid concluded by sharing her hopes that her fans, of which she has more than 24 million on Instagram, would forgive the "misunderstanding".

“I will be more responsible when bringing awareness to all causes, including my beloved Middle Eastern community. Thank you for taking the time. I love every single one of you.”

Hadid has not since posted on her main Instagram feed or Twitter account since the incident.

Her last Twitter message reads: "This was an honest mistake on an early morning ... never, ever would I intentionally try to offend anyone like that. I am so sorry."

UPDATE: People are throwing away Dior Beauty products in protest against Bella Hadid

Updated: June 25, 2019 08:06 AM

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