Dubai: Three international brands, including cosmetics giant Max Factor, have cut ties with Sondos Alqattan, the Kuwaiti social media star, amid calls for a boycott of businesses linked to the influencer.
Alqattan has received significant backlash since she posted a video of herself criticising Kuwait’s new labour laws to Instagram last Thursday. The star remained unapologetic on Monday.
On Monday afternoon, Max Factor said it would suspend all work with the make-up artist.
“Max Factor Arabia was shocked by the comments made…regarding the new labor law in Kuwait,” a spokesperson told Gulf News. “Max Factor Arabia is taking this incident very seriously and have immediately suspended all collaborations with Sondos.”
Earlier in the day, French perfume brand M. Micallef and London-based Chelsea Beautique fired the beauty and fashion influencer.
Alqattan, who has 2.3 million followers on the social media network, criticised recently introduced laws giving Filipino workers a day off per week and banning employers from holding their passports.
“We are absolutely shocked by the behaviour of Sondos Alqattan, and we deeply regret the relationship with her, which we are terminating with immediate effect,” a spokesperson for M. Micallef told Gulf News in an email.
Cosmetics brand Chelsea Beautique, meanwhile, said in a statement that they had decided to remove a video, sponsored by Alqattan, from their channels.
“We believe that decent working conditions should be provided to everyone and such behaviour does not represent our brand’s core beliefs,” it added.
Some international brands that have worked with Alqattan, including MAC Cosmetics, Shisheido, Etudes House, and Anastasia Beverly Hills, had not issued statements on the matter at the time of writing.
Despite attempts to contact local representatives, the companies have not responded to multiple requests for comment.
They face a growing backlash on social media, where users are calling for a boycott of the brands’ products.
A number of local companies, including Al Jazeera Perfumes, Beauty Pop DXB, Yara Jewellery, the Cambridge Weight Plan, and online store Boutiqaat, where Alqattan sells her range of cosmetics, have also not responded.
Be Organic, a Kuwaiti honey company which has previously sponsored Alqattan, said in a message that it was “not interested in publishing anything right now.”
The founder of a Kuwaiti beauty company that has previously worked with Alqattan said she received a large number of messages following the influencer’s remarks.
“It’s [unfair] to judge without giving her a right to defend herself,” the founder said when reached by Gulf News. She asked not to be identified.
“I’m with [giving maids] the time off, but the passport, no - unless the country makes it a law not to leave the country without a letter from the employer,” she said. “We pay money to get workers, around $4,000, and she might stay a week, and if she doesn’t like the situation, she leaves. Who will compensate me?”
Earlier this year, Kuwait and the Philippines signed a memorandum of agreement, ensuring that Filipino workers, often employed as maids or housekeepers, would be given greater protections.
This agreement effectively banned the practice of an employer holding their maid’s passport, whilst requiring that workers be provided food, clothing, health insurance, and one day off each week.
In February, the Philippines declared a total ban on expatriate workers moving to the Gulf state after the body of 29-year-old domestic worker Joanna Demafelis was discovered in a freezer in Kuwait.
Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf, the man who employed Demafelis, later confessed to killing her, and was sentenced to death by a Kuwaiti court.