News began circulating on social networking sites in Saudi Arabia regarding a Shawarma place in Islam’s holiest city of Makkah (Mecca) that featured “alluring females” in an ad. The ad triggered a debate regarding the purpose of this promotional campaign when the video began circulating.
Social media commentators argued that the focus in the promotional video was more on girls rather than promoting the restaurant or its services. The promotional video clip was posted on Twitter and Youtube, and covered by BBC Arabic and Aljazeera.
According to Saudi24News, “the Ministry of Human Resources has opened an investigation into the incident of female Shawarma place workers who appeared in a video clip inside a restaurant, in the city of Makkah, and sparked widespread controversy on social media platforms.”
According to further details, the Ministry of Human Resources in Saudi Arabia monitored the Shawarma place for non-compliance.
As per an Arabic language Saudi online portal, Al-Jazeera Voice, it learned from its sources that the Municipality of the Holy City of Makkah closed a Shawarma restaurant due to the exploitation of girls in the advertisement, as the advertisement clip sparked widespread controversy among the social networking sites users, who denounced the method of promotion, which began with a heavy focus on girls instead of promoting the restaurant itself.
Sources said that the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development issued non-conformity to the facility after identifying a number of labour law violations, including failure to commit to employing women according to spatial controls in the city of Makkah.
Photos of the Shawarma place with a notice in Arabic stating “Mughlaq”, meaning “Closed/Locked/Shut”, hanging on its door began circulating on social media.
One social media user commented in Arabic, “they showed two females in the promotional video, and when it comes to Shawarma, I couldn’t get even one Shawarma”.
BBC Arabic covered the story and the controversy it created regarding the portrayal of women in the video.