‘Empowering’ Vogue Cover Featuring Saudi Princess Following Arrests Of Women Right’s Activists Spark Controversy

Vogue cover featuring young Saudi princess Hayfa bint Abdullah al-Saud has initiated a hot debate online. Princess was seen in a red ragtop, presenting an unconventional image of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Following a conservative version of Islam, the kingdom has been repeatedly criticized for their discriminatory attitude towards women. Considering them secondary citizens with little to no participation in state processes and societal structure on a bigger sphere, the women were even denied their basic right to vote for decades.

After King Abdullah granted them the right to vote in 2015, Saudi Arabia initiated a journey towards modernization, which was fuelled by present Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Shot in a desert outside Jeddah, Saudi princess is seen in an elegantly flowing white gown, wearing leather gloves and high-heels, sitting in the driving seat on Vogue’s June edition – when KSA plans to lift the ban on woman driving formally.

“In our country, there are some conservatives who fear change. For many, it’s all they have known. Personally, I support these changes with great enthusiasm” – Princess said.

However, right before lifting the ban and issuance of latest empowering Vogue edition, series of arrests of women right’s activists have cast doubts on Kingdom’s approach towards modernization and current reforms.
Just a month before the lifting the driving ban, human rights organizations across the world voice their concerns over Kingdom’s detention of women right’s activists.

On one hand, Princess Hayfa said she supports these changes with a passion, unexplained arrests are presenting a contradictory picture of the situation.
“It is shocking that Saudi Arabia is detaining prominent women’s rights defenders – the real champions behind the lifting of the driving ban – just before they allow all women the right to drive” – said Human Rights Watch’s Rothna Begum while talking to Aljazeera.

The contradiction and concerns affiliated with the cover vs reality is the reason the vogue cover received intense backlash. Here is how the internet community responded:

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