Saudi and Emirati social media users came out in full force to cry foul at Bella Hadid after she posted an Instagram Story they deemed disrespectful to their countries.
The supermodel, who was born in the United States to a Palestinian father and a Dutch mother, was accused of insulting the Gulf nations with a photo capturing the sole of her shoe facing airplanes that carry the Saudi and Emirati flags.
The 22-year-old has since apologized for the mishap, claiming she did not notice the flags in the background and emphasizing pride in her Arab and Muslim heritage.
On Sunday, Hadid posted an Instagram story of her shoe up against an airport window, with three planes appearing in the background, one with an Emirati flag painted on its tail and another with a Saudi flag. "Anotha one [sic]," she wrote in the caption, presumably in reference to going on another flight.
Believing Hadid had intentionally positioned her foot against the Arab flags, in particular, many of her Arab followers lashed out against her. They spammed her photos with comments describing her as racist and even threatened to boycott the brands she works with.
Some also shared screenshots of a previous Instagram Story in which Hadid had shared a New York Times article by Palestinian Iyad el-Baghdadi, who accused Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of promoting "authoritarian governments run by military strongmen in the region."
In response, Hadid posted an apology in both English and Arabic. In her statement, she wrote, "I love and care so much about the Muslim and Arab side of my family, as well as my brothers and sisters around the world."
She went on to say she was not aware of the flags in the background, adding, "I have never and will never be the one to talk down on these countries."
"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," she emphasized.
Born to Palestinian billionaire Mohamed Hadid and Dutch model Yolanda Hadid, Bella and her siblings do not shy away from highlighting their Arab and Palestinian roots. This comes as their father, a real estate developer, was born in Nazareth during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, before fleeing to Syria with his family when he was 18 months old.
In Dec. 2017, after Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced plans for the construction of a new U.S. embassy in the occupied Palestinian city, the Hadids were among the many supporters of the Palestinian cause who condemned the decision on social media.
"The treatment of the Palestinian people is unfair, one-sided and should not be tolerated," Bella wrote at the time. "I stand with Palestine."
She also spontaneously joined a London protest against the decision, after her car was stopped as a result of traffic.