Beauty brands sever ties with Kuwaiti blogger over remarks on Filipino domestic workers

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Beauty brands sever ties with Kuwaiti blogger Sondos Al-Qattan over remarks on Filipino maids. (Screengrab from YouTube)
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Beauty brands sever ties with Kuwaiti blogger Sondos Al-Qattan over remarks on Filipino maids. (Photo courtesy of Instagram @sondos_aq)
Updated 24 July 2018

Beauty brands sever ties with Kuwaiti blogger over remarks on Filipino domestic workers

CAIRO: Two international domestic brands have reportedly cut off their ties with a Kuwaiti Instagram star who said she was upset Filipino domestic workers in her country were getting a couple days off a month.
Sondo Al-Qattan faces criticism for a video posted on July 10 to Instagram in which she attacked measures introduced in May that grant Filipinos working in the oil-rich Gulf state one day off per week and prevent employers from keeping their passports.
Al-Qattan, known for her Internet make-up tutorials, told AFP by phone that the outcry was “unjustified” and did not require an apology.
Apparently, French perfume brand M. Micallef and London-based Chelsea Beautique that feature the beauty blogger have decided to sever ties with her after her comments sparked outrage on social media.
A spokesperson for M. Micallef told Gulf News in an email the company “deeply regret the relationship with her” and that it is is being terminated “with immediate effect.”
Cosmetics brand Chelsea Beautique also said in a statement that they had decided to remove a video featuring Al-Qattan from their channels.
Al-Qattan, who has 2.3 million followers on Instagram, faced huge backlash for criticizing Kuwait’s new labor law.
“All I said was that the employer was entitled to keep the servant’s passport, and that many Kuwaitis and Gulf nationals agree with me,” said Al-Qattan.
“I have the right as a kafil (sponsor) to keep my employee’s passport, and I am responsible for paying a deposit of up to 1,500 dinars (around $4,900),” she said.
Al-Qattan insisted the practices are not an “insult to the employee, and do not concern humanity or human rights because I did not deprive the employee of her salary or beat her.”
“The servant lives in the house just like the owners, he eats the same food, sleeps, rests and goes out shopping... this is a natural right. He’s not like a waiter who works fixed hours, so we give him a weekly leave,” she added.
Qattan’s comments in the now deleted clip sparked outrage on social media, with many Twitter and Instagram users calling on brands that work with the makeup artist to sever ties.
Migrante International, an advocacy outfit for Filipinos working overseas, called on Qattan to apologize and likened her comments to those of “a slave owner.”
On May 11, Kuwait and Manila signed an agreement regulating domestic labor, following a diplomatic crisis that led to a ban on Filipino workers going to work in the Gulf country.
In February, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte imposed a partial ban on workers traveling to Kuwait after a Filipino maid was murdered and her body found in a freezer.
The crisis deepened after Kuwaiti authorities in April expelled Manila’s ambassador over video footage of Philippine embassy staff helping workers escape employers accused of mistreatment.


Tulips from Amsterdam? A blooming scam, says new probe

This file photo taken on March 6, 2003 shows bulbs at the flower market in Amsterdam. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2019

Tulips from Amsterdam? A blooming scam, says new probe

  • Tulip bulbs should only be sold between August to December and planted before the start of the (northern hemisphere) winter, in order for the flowers to bloom in spring

THE HAGUE: Tourists are being ripped off at Amsterdam’s famous flower market, with just one percent of all bulbs sold at the floating bazaar ever producing a blossom, investigators said Tuesday.
A probe commissioned by the Dutch capital’s municipality and tulip growers also found that often only one flower resembled the pictures on the packaging like color, and that there were fewer bulbs than advertised.
“The probe showed that there is chronic deception of consumers,” at the sale of tulip bulbs at the flower market, the Royal General Bulb Growers’ Association (KAVB) said.
“Millions of tourists and day-trippers are being duped,” KAVB chairman Rene le Clercq said in a statement.
Amsterdam and the KAVB have now referred the matter to the Dutch consumer watchdog.
The Amsterdam flower market is one of the city’s most famous landmarks and dates from around 1862, when flower sellers sailed their barges up the Amstel River and moored them in the “Singel” to sell their goods.
Its fame inspired the popular song “Tulips from Amsterdam,” best known for a 1958 version by British entertainer Max Bygraves.
Today the market comprises of a number of fixed barges with little greenhouses on top. Vendors not only sell tulip bulbs but also narcissus, snowdrops, carnations, violets, peonies and orchids.
But of 1,363 bulbs bought from the Singel and then planted, just 14 actually bloomed, the investigation said.
Investigators found a similar problem along the so-called “flower bulb boulevard” in Lisse, a bulb-field town south of Amsterdam where the famous Keukenhof gardens are also situated.
Since first imported from the Ottoman Empire 400 years ago, tulips “have become our national symbol and the bulb industry a main player in the Dutch economy,” said Le Clercq.
But the “deception about the tulip bulbs is a problem that has been existing for the past 20 years,” he added.

The victims are often tourists, KAVB director Andre Hoogendijk said.
“A tourist who buys a bad bulb is not likely to come back,” he told Amsterdam’s local AT5 news channel.
Vendors at the market told AT5 that complaints were known.
“There are indeed stalls here that sell rubbish. That is to everyone’s disadvantage, because it portrays the whole flower market in a bad light,” one unidentified vendor said.
But a spokesperson for the City of Amsterdam said that all vendors were being investigated “and that the results are shocking.”
“So to say that it is only a few stalls is not true,” the spokesperson told AFP in an email.
The probe took place earlier in the year during springtime, the spokesperson said.
“The issue is that you shouldn’t even sell tulip bulbs during the spring. No decent florist shop in Holland does that.”
Tulip bulbs should only be sold between August to December and planted before the start of the (northern hemisphere) winter, in order for the flowers to bloom in spring.