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Akon mocked online for wearing Emirati thobe in Saudi advert

Saudia airlines Eid advert starring popular singer met with mockery online
A video of Akon shared on the Saudia social media pages has been met with mockery (Screengrab)
A video of Akon shared on the Saudia Airline's social media pages has been met with mockery (Screengrab)

On Saturday night, Senegalese star Akon, dressed in a traditional white thobe, wished everyone a happy Eid.

"Do you know what the word Eid means?" the singer and entrepreneur asked in a 45-second commercial for Saudia airlines.

"It means repeat," he said, "reconnect with the ones that make life better."

"Eid, clap the loudest for your loved ones' success," he added.

"Make this a happy Eid, from Saudia," he ended, smiling, arms outstretched in front of the company logo.

But, as social media users soon pointed out, there were several issues with the ad.

Akon was appearing in a Saudi advert wearing an Emirati thobe, a kandora.

Translation: If this is Saudia airlines, why is he wearing an Emirati thobe? 

Translation: I hope an Emirati advertisement uses the Saudi thobe next time

The advertisement was a "disaster on all levels," according to one social media user, with the producers "unable to distinguish between a Saudi and Emirati thobe". 

"Had I not seen the name, I would not have assumed it was an advertisement for a Saudi company," another said.

Unlike its Emirati counterpart and the one seen in the video, the Saudi-style thobe is more fitted, with a two-button collar and shirt sleeves that often need cufflinks.

Others were perplexed by why Akon appeared in the advert at all, saying he is mostly irrelevant to Saudi and Arab consumers.

Akon, who is Muslim, was filmed performing the Umrah pilgrimage in 2020, following his first concert in the kingdom in 2019. 

Translation: What does Akon have to do with Saudi Arabia? And why is he wearing an Emirati thobe??

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.