Mr. Hadid has broken his silence on the recent controversy surrounding daughter Bella Hadid in an exclusive interview with Arabian Business. The real estate developer and father-of-five 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.”
In case you’ve been out the loop with the whole #BellaHadidIsRacist trending topic on Twitter, Bella accusations came after the supermodel took to her Instagram Story to post a picture of the view from an airport lounge, with the sole of her boot against the window facing a row of planes, among them a Saudi and a UAE aircraft, captioned “anotha one”. This was deemed “insulting” towards the UAE and Saudi Arabia and the model was quick to take it down and apologise, stating the positioning of her foot had “nothing to do with politics” and that the post was “an honest mistake on an early morning… never, ever would I intentionally try to offend anyone like that. I am so sorry.”
The outrage was even directed towards brands that work with Hadid, resulting in French luxury giant Dior removing the model’s visuals from stores and shopping malls across the GCC for “appeasement”, as the public have been calling on the brand to stop using Hadid in its advertising and even threatening to boycott products from all brands she works with, including Versace and Calvin Klein among others.
The full post read: “Hi All. I am posting this to clear up a few things that have been weighing on my heart… To begin, I would never want my posts or platform to be used for hate against anyone, especially those of my own beautiful & powerful heritage. I love and care so much about the Muslim and Arab side of my family, as well as my brothers and sisters throughout the world. Not only do I have so much respect from the bottom of my heart, I have always tried to stand up for what I feel is right, especially regarding the great Middle East. I have never and will never be the one to talk down on these countries… Only to spread love, and the true beauty of them, as the way I was taught by my Teta and my father. To feel as if I have disappointed you is what hurts me the most. The photo of my shoe on my Story yesterday had NOTHING to do with politics. I promise. I never noticed the planes in the background and that is the truth. I would never mean to disrespect these airlines, let alone these amazing countries. I absolutely love these airlines, with the best planes and people. I want to send a sincere apology to those who ever thought I would put blame on them, especially to Saudi Arabia and the UAE… This was never the case, and I hope you can understand the misunderstanding. I will be more responsible when bringing awareness to all causes, including my beloved Middle Eastern community.”, she also posted an Arabic translation apologising for the supposed cultural faux pas.
Mohamed Hadid added “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 also added that Bella has long been a ‘champion of Arab causes’ and praised her participation in campaigns condemning the US Muslim ban.
The backlash against Bella was also fuelled by a NY Times opinion piece criticising Saudi and the UAE for their involvement in Sudan’s military crackdown on demonstrators, which she shared a few days prior to the incident. The model quickly took this down and claimed it was only meant to raise awareness on the humanitarian crisis as opposed to the political conflict. When asked to comment on this, Mohamed 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.”