Fulla Outsells Barbie in Egypt

This is an interesting article on the BBC about the Fulla Islamic doll outselling the more brand name Barbie. I remembered this from Sabri Hakim who blogged about it on November the 7th and an interesting exchange of comments took place over there. Sadly I could not continue the discussion (sorry hareega) because of the Amman bombings which happened the next day, keeping us all on the Jordanian blogosphere a bit busy.

Anyways, read on…

Step aside Barbie – a veiled doll with, as her creator describes it “Muslim values”, is proving a popular choice in Egypt’s toy stores.

Fulla, dressed in a traditional Islamic headscarf and overdress, comes with her own pink felt prayer rug.

Some parents who would not want to buy Barbies for their daughters are choosing to give them Fullas instead.

Creators NewBoy Design Studio launched the doll in 2003 and sales have proved strong in the Middle East.

Fawaz Abidin, the Fulla brand manager, said: “You have to create a character that parents and children will want to relate to.

“She’s honest, loving and caring, and she respects her father and mother.”

how do they know the doll is “honest, loving and caring” and “respects her father and mother.”? I’m having a Bride of Chucky deja vu.

Career woman

Fulla is still single and there are no plans for an Islamic equivalent to Ken, Barbie’s former boyfriend. However, a Doctor Fulla and Fulla as a teacher are planned – both respected careers for women.

Her extensive wardrobe has been modernised for the Egyptian market to include jeans and the type of colourful headscarves worn by many young women.

Tarek Mohammed, chief salesman at Toys’r’Us in Cairo, said: “Fulla sells better because she is closer to our Arab values – she never reveals a leg or an arm.”

The surge in sales of Muslim girls’ toys, including the veiled Fulla, comes amid new enthusiasm among Muslim women for wearing the veil. [source]

Well like I said before I think it’s a great initiative. Other cultures have assimilated the popular doll of the 20th century to suit their own cultures and I guess this is just another healthy alternative on that line. Why should little Arab or Muslim girls model themselves after caucasian western women? Whether playing with a doll that looks nothing like you and dresses nothing like you or the main female role models in your life such as your mother or older sister, has some sort of phychological impact on a child I don’t know.

But at the end of the day, it’s a toy.

In my opinion, all kids should be given marbles and told to go play outside.


  • I dont think kids would percieve the headscarfed toy anyway. They would remove the veil and then apply it again. Its a toy for them at the end.

    So the impact as such would be minimal in my opinion.

  • I like the idea and initiative, as others have have said, but…

    Fulla may wear more clothes, but they are just as tight. Her figure is impossible to maintain without a dose of anorexia. Her skin is too light, nose too small and eyes too far apart (hourani?) to reflect the intrinsic beauty of the Arab woman.

    I think Fulla’s creators could have done more to celebrate the uniqueness of Arab women instead of sticking so closely to what I don’t like about Barbie. At least with Arab women, the hair thickness wouldl be somewhat realistic!

  • I agree with you kinsi, Fulla looks like a white skipper doll in a black abaya. Indeed Fulla still is imposing one kind of Western standard: that of European beauty over of-color beauty, namely complexion.

  • oh be quiet Fulla is so cute i want one so badly…stop hating.. its better than the other stupid barbies that are half naked. GO FULLA!!!

  • I am not a muslim or of Arab decent, but I too prefer Fulla to Barbie. I’m hispanic and tired of blonde hair, blue eyes, and fake breasts being the ideal of beauty. My 9 year old daughter was worried about her weight, and that comes from the American & European standard that anorexic and un wholesome is beautiful. A little modesty in toys and programs for young girls would do a world of good.

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