Ikea has apologized for eliminating women in catalogs distributed in Saudi Arabia, apparently so as not to offend Muslims. Scenes featuring families using Ikea furniture and other products are missing mothers in versions that appear in the Arab nation. Not a single woman appears on any of the pages, reports ABC. The move infuriated female shoppers, who make up the lion's share of Ikea consumers, with some women vowing to "vanish" from Ikea stores. “We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the Ikea Group values,” the company said in a statement. A spokeswoman added: "We're deeply sorry for what has happened. We understand why people are upset."
Besides, wiping out women wasn't necessary because Saudi Arabia doesn't prohibit women from being depicted in marketing—though it does ban them from driving and only gave them the vote last year, notes the Wall Street Journal. They're also barred from work, travel, and study unless they get permission from the men in their lives. “It’s impossible to retouch women out of reality,” Sweden's minister of trade fumed. ”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 catalogs are being distributed in as many as 62 countries. It's not clear if or how catalogs have been altered elsewhere. (Read more Ikea stories.)