Kuwaiti influencer Sondos Al Qattan, who sparked worldwide outrage over controversial comments about domestic workers, has a ‘free right’ to her opinion, according to the chairman of Bahrain-based family conglomerate Kanoo Group.
Mishal Kanoo, one of the Gulf’s most prominent businessman, told Arabian Business that Al Qattan should be able to express her opinion.
“This is her opinion. I don't support it, but she is fully within her right to have her opinion and she should have the free space to say it,” he said.
Al Qattan, a makeup artist with 2.3 million followers on Instagram, criticised Kuwait’s legislation designed to protect the right of Filipina domestic workers.
“The new laws that have been passed [in Kuwait] are like a pathetic film. For her [domestic worker] to take a day off every week, that’s four days a month. Those are the days that she’ll be out. And we don’t know what she’ll be doing on those days, with her passport on her,” she said in a video in July, adding, "How can you have a 'servant' at home who keeps their own passport with them?"
The backlash saw a number of brands, including MAC Cosmetics and Anastasia Beverly Hills, cut ties with the social media star. This led Al Qattan to release another video where she states that the matter has been blown out of proportion, and that there are “more important things in life, like Botox”.
While Kanoo disagrees with Al Qattan, he believes laws surrounding domestic workers should be made ‘clearer’ as a household cannot be compared to a regular, corporate business environment.
“I think a full discussion needs to take place to help domestic workers know their rights, but also help employers know what they can legally do. I mean, no one should work 7 days a week, but a house is not like a business from 9 to 5. [There needs to be] a clearer way to be fair to both employer and employees,” he said.
The chairman added that he advises influencers like Al Qattan to think before they speak.
“We have an Arabic poem that says, ‘Your tongue is your horse. If you take care of it, it will take care of you. If you betray it, it will betray you’,” he said.
In a tweet on July 26, Kanoo had urged Al Qattan to apologise for her comments.
“She just doesn’t get it. Just apologize for the stupid statements and try to be a better person. But no. she had to defend her position. When will she learn?” he said.
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