Outrage after Vogue Arabia films raunchy photoshoot in holy Medina

Outrage after Vogue Arabia films raunchy photoshoot in holy Medina
A controversial photoshoot of top international supermodels took place inside the historical site of Al-Ula in the province of Saudi's holy city of Medina.
2 min read
13 July, 2020
Saudi authorities gave permission for the photoshoot [Vogue Arabia/Twitter]

A Vogue Arabia photoshoot involving international supermodels - including Kate Moss - holding raunchy poses close to the holy city of Medina, in Saudi Arabia, has sparked outrage. 

The Arabic edition of the renowned US-based fashion magazine released last Tuesday a photoshoot series entitled "24 hours in Al Ula".

It featured supermodels Kate Moss, Mariacarla Boscono, Candice Swanepoel, Jourdan Dunn, Amber Valletta, Xiao Wen and Alek Wek wearing tight dresses with thigh-high cuts as they posed and walked around a historical city in Medina Governorate, a province which is also home to the second holiest site in Islam.

Al-Ula is an UNESCO World Heritage site, known as "the world's largest open air museum", made up of carved rock structures similar to Jordan's Petra.

Saudi authorities gave permission for the photoshoot, as part of a series of reforms implemented by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but dubbed by many as superficial and glossing over gross human rights abuses.

While Riyadh has removed some restrictions on women over the last year - including allowing them to travel and drive cars - analysts say male guardians largely retain control over the lives of female relatives.

Critics allege the reform measures are part of a "charade" to present Saudi Arabia as a modern and reformist kingdom despite the continued imprisonment of rights activsts. 

Many took to Twitter to slam the hypocrisy by the kingdom in its latest bid to appear "more liberal" with the Vogue photo shoot, despite jailing women's rights activists.

"Saudi Arabia authorises a steamy photoshoot by Vogue Arabia in a Medina province, while they detain women's rights activists, including Loujain al-Hathloul, who campaigned against the driving ban imposed on women," one Twitter user wrote.

"#SaudiArabia allows raunchy Vogue photoshoot of international supermodels within the historical site of Al-Ula in the province of Madina. This is a half-naked and sexually provocative photo shoot. Doesn't know how many surprises Saudi Arabia give in future," another user said.

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