Supermodel Bella Hadid’s father, real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, has hit back at social media “trolls” after his 22-year-old Palestinian-American model came under fire for posting an image deemed by some as “insulting” towards the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The now-deleted post shows the model’s boot held in the air near a window that overlooks a row of airplanes boasting the flags of the two countries.
The model was quick to take it down and issued an apology to fans in Arabic and English, stating that the positioning of her foot had “nothing to do with politics” and that the story was “an honest mistake on an early morning”.
Hadid, founder of Hadid Design and Development Group, has also come to his daughter’s defence, stating that the picture was a mere coincidence and that Bella, who has long been a champion of Arab causes, has been targeted by social media trolls.
In an exclusive interview with Arabian Business, he said, “Bella has been targeted by jealous individuals and trolls who wish to destroy her career. Arabs don’t do that to their own. She is a proud Arab and a proud Muslim. There are many people with their own agendas, mostly out of jealousy for her success, that are trying to bring her down. 95 percent of the backlash on social media is coming from paid trolls - just open any of these accounts and most of them are fake," Mohamed Hadid said.
"Do you really think she was walking around the airport and trying to find those two exact airplanes right next to each other to take an intentional picture like that? She can’t even walk in the mall without thousands of fans following her around. She was tired, waiting for her flight in the airline lounge and just took a picture. No one in our family would ever disrespect any Arab country, not Saudi Arabia, not the UAE and not anyone from the GCC,” he added
Hadid said Bella has been a champion of Arab causes, and has never been shy to lend her voice and support.
"Are people forgetting that Bella jumped out of her car in NYC in 2017 to join the march against the Muslim ban? And when she was in Dubai, she drove to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and said that the best day of her life was seeing this mosque?”
The backlash against the model was also fuelled by a New York Times op-ed she shared a few days earlier on her Instagram, whereby the article criticises the UAE and Saudi for playing a role in Sudan’s military crackdown on demonstrators. The model was quick to take it down, however, and claimed that it was meant to raise awareness on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan as opposed to the political conflict.
When asked about his daughter’s controversial post, Hadid said, “She’s 22-years-old. She did not properly read the article. It was sent to her by her friend and she reposted it. She knows she made a mistake, that she should be more responsible with what she posts, and she has apologised. My family and I respect all countries.”
French luxury giant Dior has removed Bella’s visuals from shopping malls and stores across the GCC for “appeasement” in line with the backlash on social media. The brand refused to address whether or not it would discontinue its relationship with the model, and continues to feature her campaigns on social media.
The Dubai Mall, which the model visited in 2017 as part of a campaign with French luxury giant Dior, also removed its visuals of Bella in the shopping mall following a petition from consumers requesting the changes.
“We uphold the values of our nation and Saudi Arabia with the highest respect and regard. We have brought the matter to the attention of the retailers to take appropriate steps,” The Dubai Mall said in a statement.
It also refused to disclose whether or not it would re-introduce the model’s campaigns.
Other shopping malls which followed suit include Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Festival City.For all the latest fashion trends from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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