More Muslim Competition for Barbie

In the competitive world market for Barbie-like dolls a new contender has emerged. Salma, from the word ‘peace' in Arabic, is a new Barbie inspired doll that promotes positive Islamic values. The new doll, created by Sukmawati Suryaman, an Indonesian businesswomen, is the latest competition to Mattel's Barbie doll in the Muslim world.

Salma Doll (from the Salma website)Salma Doll (from the Salma website)

In many Islamic states, Barbie has been banned because she is perceived as promoting promiscuity and sexuality. This has led to an increase in the number of dolls similar to Barbie that lack curvaceous bodies and revealing garments. Dolls like Fulla, Razanne and now, Salma, target an audience that does not relate to Mattel's Barbie. Instead, these dolls include clothing that covers arms, legs and navels. They also include veils to cover the dolls hair. Right now, each of the aforementioned dolls, with the exception of Barbie, is primarily popular in only one geographic region, Fulla in the Middle East, Razanne in the United States and Salma in Indonesia.

So far, these dolls have proved popular for their target demographic, Muslim girls and their parents who are looking for a doll that is culturally aligned with their belief system. While current production levels of Salma are low enough that her creator still produces Salma's clothes with help from friends and family, Fulla and Razanne are produced in larger quantities. Fulla has sold over 1 million units and Razanne is currently selling about thirty-thousand units each year. While Mattel sells several Barbies inspired by the Middle East, they have not proven popular and have been criticized as ‘stereotypical' portrayals of women in the Middle East. So should Mattel get on the bandwagon and start producing a Barbie doll that is acceptable to Muslim girls and their parents?

See the official Salma Website

Lee Nunley
Middle Eastern Innovations Writer

Nov 1, 2007
by Casual Adventurer (not verified)

Cultural diversity is cool

I wonder why the toy market has never really tapped into the exciting cultural diversity of our world?

Just think of all the fantastic ethnic garments from around the world that could be made for the "Barbie" (or in this case Salma) range. Apart from the appeal of some amazingly beautiful fashions from around the world the packaging could contain something educational about the culture where the clothes originate.