Sweden's trade minster issued a formal rebuke of the country's iconic furniture retailer Ikea for airbrushing women out of the Saudi Arabian version of its familiar ready-to-assemble furniture catalog.
Metro, which was first to notice the stark differences between the Saudi catalog and the company's 26 other editions, pointed out that, not only were images of women scrubbed from all the photos, but the female designer of Ikea's "PS" furniture line was also "deleted" from the publication.
"It's impossible to retouch women out of reality," Ewa Björling, the trade minister, told the free daily. "These images are yet another regrettable example that shows we have a long road ahead when it comes to gender equality in Saudi Arabia."
Ikea has since apologized for the decision to remove women from its Saudi catalog, saying in a statement, "we should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the IKEA Group values."
No word, however, on whether it plans to reprint the catalog with the original photos intact.