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Feature Opinion

The Kuwaiti Influencer Incident Is A Sad And Unfair Reflection Of Human Rights In The Region

Every now and again, a story from the Arab world - that isn't related to geo politics - makes global headlines. Whether it's Salt Bae's many entertaining stunts, Mo Salah's home address being leaked on Facebook, or Rihanna and her Saudi boyfriend.

One of the reasons Lovin Dubai and Lovin Saudi exists, is to capture what amazing places they are and to celebrate people who are making a difference, but also to dispel the common misconceptions of the region. So, when these things that make us smile happen, we are very happy to share.

Enter the case of Kuwaiti influencer Sondas AlQattan. This week she posted a rant about new Kuwaiti law reforms for domestic helper's rights and it made global headlines, for all the wrong reasons.

Is this a human rights issue or an influencer marketing issue?

The incident poses many questions. Is this view systematic of spoilt influencers or is it a reflection of the society we live in? Or, more specifically is it an isolated incident that would be wrong to make general assumptions about.

Many media commentators have been critical of influencers for not disclosing brand endorsements, for demanding special treatment and charging extortionate fees in the Middle East. Given the media guidelines in many countries in the region, that prohibit slander and defamation, and on the whole, contribute to a lot safer and less abusive online environment, there are few incidents of influencers getting called out for shocking behaviour.

Influencer marketing has become the dominant form of media in Kuwait over the past few years with big brands like Bloomingdales paying for exposure

Regulation for influencers has been put in place recently in the UAE

The UAE has made moves in the past few months to make influencers more accountable, where they need to register as businesses to work with brands. Given that this process comes through the National Media Council, it's also a responsible step to manage such situations. Public figures with the ability to reach millions of people, need to be aware of that responsibility.

She deleted her Instagram account when the media furore began

It was unclear whether the authorities stepped in or what has cause the account to be removed. It's not unheard of for influencers to remove their accounts while the heat is on, and they reinstating them some time later once things have claimed down.

24 hours later, and AlQattan's Instagram account is back up and running.

Laws that are introduced need to be followed for society to be a better place

There is so much good work being done for human rights, as the new law that was introduced indicates, both in Kuwait and across the region. It needs people to strive for improvement at all times.

This incident gives those looking for fodder to make general assumptions about this region a reference point, and it shouldn't be so.

For every negative rant about migrant workers, there are ten times as many good deeds taking place that are not highlighted

We see what happens in Dubai every year with the Ramadan Fridges campaign, and there are many other acts of kindness taking place. It's hard to show the world how people of different nationalities live in harmony in the UAE, and incidents like this don't do the cause any favors.

The new law in Kuwait was introduced following a murder incident, so it was done as a response to an issue that was identified. How can the people of Kuwait move forward if measures to improve life in Kuwait are treated with a response like this.

Furthermore, how can the public perception of Kuwait and the wider gulf change, when responses to new laws are dealt with like this.

Read: Groups Now Demanding A Public Apology After Arab Star's Controversial Comments On Domestic Workers Go Viral

Written By

Lovin Dubai