Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 June 2020

When Ivanka invaded social media and a nation’s hearts

Rym Ghazal highlights how "Ivanka mania" flooded social media this week as the daughter of Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia with her father
Ivanka with Saudi officials in Riyadh. AFP
Ivanka with Saudi officials in Riyadh. AFP

‘I have built this mosque for the precious Ivanka, in the hopes she finds a place in heaven,” said a voice in Arabic in a short viral animation. The male voice signed off by saying his full name, just in case you had any doubt he was from Saudi Arabia, and this religious gesture was his way of declaring his love for the beauty Ivanka Trump.

Ivanka mania flooded social media outlets this week with declaration of love and admiration for this “blonde angel” that descended upon Saudi Arabia.

It took another viral video to burst the bubble of all these hopeful suitors: a GIF of US president Donald Trump holding up a notebook that had been modified to have a photo of his daughter Ivanka and Arabic writing next to it that announced: “she is married and has children”.

This week, Mr Trump arrived for a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia on his first overseas trip as president of the United States. While there have been important political and economic developments as a result of his meetings with key Saudi officials, it was Ivanka, his daughter, who stole the show. There were some who focused on his wife, Melania, especially on what the first lady wore, but it was Ivanka who captured the hearts, the wit and imagination of a nation.

Numerous videos, GIFs, images went viral on social media, from men declaring their undying love for the blonde beauty, some proposing marriage and others digging up the price and where to buy her the black floral dress worn by her.

Never underestimate what a powerful beautiful woman can do when she smiles and walks into a room.

Some female social media users expressed annoyance at this overwhelming infatuation with Ivanka: “As if it is the first time you guys see a woman,” a few quipped. While others said they want to look like Ivanka and vowed to lose “hundreds of kilograms” of weight and become blonde like her and will name a baby “or two” after her.

Jokes aside, we can’t underestimate the power of Ivanka and what her mere presence can do for serious business.

During her short visit, $100 million (Dh367m) was pledged to a women’s business fund supported by Ms Trump.

The news report had World Bank president Jim Yong-kim announce the donation from the Gulf states on Sunday, during a meeting between Ivanka and a group of Saudi women. The idea of a fund providing micro-finance to women in underdeveloped countries was floated by the president’s daughter and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a conference in Berlin last month.

The donation along with other pledges from the US and other countries will allow the World Bank to announce the creation of a $1 billion fund for women empowerment during the G20 summit in July.

“This is really a stunning achievement. I’ve never seen anything come together so quickly,” Mr Kim said.

While there probably was a lengthy negotiation period before the actual announcement, we can’t ignore the fact that a lot of it probably had to do with Ivanka’s popularity.

It is not the first time the world has gone gaga over a pretty woman. Many studies in psychology have shown that the level of attractiveness does have an impact on power, perception and opportunities.

What is interesting to note here as well, is how creative and funny Saudis can be.

This wealth of talent and wit is something that should be tapped into, as truly, one of the best ways to tackle sensitive issues and taboos, break barriers and build bridges is through humour.



Updated: May 24, 2017 04:00 AM



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