Meet Fulla, the Arab Barbie girl. She's covered from head to foot in black and has no boyfriends, let alone one named Ken.

In some parts of the world, Fulla might gather dust, but across the Middle East and North Africa she is the top selling doll.

Pictured here in the abaya, the style of dress worn by Arab women in the Gulf region, Fulla's top priorities are respecting her parents and being kind to her friends.

Many Middle Eastern children could not relate to blonde haired buxom Barbie - her revealing clothes, her frequenting of discos, and her boyfriend Ken had little relevance in Muslim homes.

Enter Fulla. She wears an abaya and her top priorities are respect for her parents and being kind to her friends.

Given a choice, would you buy a Fulla or a Barbie? Tell us why in 100 words.
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Many Middle Eastern children are happy to at last find a doll they can relate their lives and values to.

"She's popular because she's one of us. She's my sister. She's my mother. She's my wife.

Fulla is pictured here in coloured hijab worn by Muslim women in the Mediterranean and North Africa.
So as a parent, I'd like Fulla for my daughter," the New York Times quotes Damascus toy store manager Mohammad Al Sabbagh as saying.

Fulla can be purchased wearing the abaya - a black head to toe robe and headscarf - worn by women in the Arabian Gulf region, or full-length robes of different colours as are donned by women from Arab countries of the eastern Mediterranean.

More than 200 accessories - including prayer rugs, prayer beads, handbags, in-line skates, beach balls and gummy watches can be purchased to compliment Fulla's outfits.

Blonde Barbie - a total contrast to her Arabic cousins - frequents discos, has a boyfriend named Ken and has long been a target for irate feminists who are unhappy with the image she promotes.
The ‘Arabic Barbie' has a completely different style for indoors - here she matches her Western counterpart in style and skimpiness sporting bathing suits and even lace underwear.

Fulla, is made in the same Hong Kong factory where Barbie is manufactured

Toy retailers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai were quick to catch on to the trend when Fulla was released by her Syrian designers, NewBoy Design Studio, in November 2003, and given the range of accessories Fulla comes with, it seems she's selling like hot cakes.

Fulla facts and figures

  • Fulla Doll with long coat: Dh49.90
  • Fulla Doll with beach bag: Dh57.50
  • Fulla Doll with prayer dress: Dh58.90
  • Fulla Doll, battery operated: Dh94.90
  • Fulla Doll, indoor fashion: Dh34.90


  • Black abaya: Dh24.90
  • Range of outfits: Dh19.75
  • Yasmeen doll. Fulla's best friend: Dh34.90
  • Closet: Dh94.90
  • Dresser and chair set: Dh94.90

(Prices quoted from Carrefour) Toys'r'Us (Abu Dhabi), who also carry the Fulla dolls, sell Fulla-pink child-size accessories bag, dress, veil and prayer mat: Dh149

Fulla Predecessors - The toy world's previous attempts at ethnically diverse dolls

  • Black Barbie (Mattel)
  • Size 16 Barbie (Mattel)
  • Tomboy Barbie (Mattel)
  • Moroccan Barbie (Mattel)
  • Leila, Muslim slave girl in an Ottoman court (Mattel)
  • Sara, Iranian veiled doll
  • Razanne, made by Michigan-based company, selling to Muslims in US and UK

Fulla products - (available in Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar)

  • Fulla Silverware
  • Fulla Stationery
  • Fulla Luggage
  • Backpacks
  • Chewing gum
  • Frisbees
  • Pool toys