US model Bella Hadid has apologised after posting a photo on social media that spawned a backlash from people in the Arab world.
The photo, taken in an airport lounge, shows the sole of Bella Hadid’s boot raised towards Saudi Arabian and Emirates aircraft in the distance.
In certain cultures, it is considered the ultimate insult to display the sole of footwear to someone, as it implies the person is lower than the dirt on the sole.
The model, who has mixed heritage – her mother is a Dutch-born American while her father is Palestinian-American – shared the image to her 27 million followers on Instagram.
One person on Twitter commented: “What Bella Hadid did is just unacceptable.” While another tweeted: “As a Saudi girl I will protect my country from people like you.”
The 22-year-old model posted apologies in English and Arabic on her social media accounts.
She said: “I would never want my posts or platform to be used for hate against anyone especially those of my own beautiful and powerful heritage. I love and care so much about the Muslim and Arab side of my family.
“The photo of my shoe had nothing to do with politics. I never noticed the planes in the background and that is the truth. I would never mean to disrespect these airlines.”
Bella Hadid posted a further apology in a later tweet adding that she had made “an honest mistake”.
“This was an honest mistake on an early morning… never, ever would I intentionally try to offend anyone like that. I am so sorry ..”
However, some people did not accept Hadid’s apologies and used the hashtag #BellaHadidIsRacist to show their contempt.
One user on Twitter tweeted: “We don’t care if u did it by mistake or not but u are famous u should to be more carefully.”
Others posted images of perfume brands, associated with Hadid such as Dior and Calvin Klein, being thrown into bins in protest.
Some also posted images of Bella Hadid with shoes on her face.
There were also people who shared their sympathy for the model: “I don’t know what to think of this but at least she admits what she did was disrespectful to a whole NATION whether it was intentional or not and she apologised for it. Everyone must use their platforms to spread love and peace.”
Another user said: “The whole situation is absurd… she is not a bad person and she doesn’t deserve all this hate.”