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Red Flag For UAE National Day Trainers

  |   CultureShocks Blog


cultural misunderstanding in the uae national day

The News:

The German sportswear retailer, Puma, has pulled a line of limited edition trainers featuring the colours of the UAE flag after complaints that they were disrespectful.

These commemorative trainers were created to mark the 40th UAE National Day, but rapidly caused uproar amongst Emirati consumers.

The word’s third-largest sportswear brand released an emailed statement affirming that “Puma took the feedback from our consumers very seriously and has indefinitely actioned the removal of the shoe from all stores.”

Behind the News:

In Arab culture, the shoe is considered dirty because it is on the ground and associated with the foot, the lowest part of the body, which prompted complaints that featuring the national colours trainers was culturally insensitive.

Moreover, the flag is a sacred symbol for the UAE and due to this, many felt that Puma had trivialized it by using the flag’s colours on its trainers.

Puma issued a statement in which the retailer apologised for this grave cultural misunderstanding, emphasising that “the shoe was never intended to upset or offend our customers here in the Middle East, but to give the people of the UAE a piece of locally-created design as a symbol of recognition of this great occasion.”

An Arab expat working in the UAE said that “big brands have to realise that you cannot have one idea for the whole world. Each area you operate in has to be have tailor-made solutions. Especially here in the Middle East, where cultural sensitivities are key, you have to be very careful. “

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