|First appearance||November 2003|
|Created by||NewBoy FZCO|
|Aliases||"A Girl's Dream Doll"|
|Family||Father, Mother, Twin Brother & Sister (Nour and Bader)|
Fulla is the name of an 11½ inch Barbie-like fashion doll marketed to children of Islamic and Middle-Eastern countries as an alternative to Barbie. Her concept evolved around 1999, and she hit stores in late 2003. Fulla was created by a UAE manufacturer from Dubai called NewBoy FZCO. Fulla is also sold in China, Brazil, North Africa, Egypt, and Indonesia, while a few are sold in the United States. Although there had been many other dolls in the past that were created with a hijab, such as Razanne and Moroccan Barbie, none of them had ever been as popular as Fulla due to launching alongside a marketing campaign aired on the then-popular television channel Spacetoon. Fulla is a role-model to some Muslim people, displaying how many Muslim people would prefer their daughters to dress and behave.
Development and information
At first, Fulla was developed to have long coal black hair streaked with auburn and brown eyes, but later, dolls with lighter hair and eyes were introduced. The product development team considered about 10 different faces before deciding on her look. She was dressed in a black abaya and head scarf for the Saudi market, but no veil in other markets; because the product development didn't want to "go to extremes."  For more liberal countries, Fulla has a white scarf and pastel coat. Her outdoor clothes have since become more colorful, but her shoulders are always covered and the skirt always falls below her knees, as traditionally Muslim women are expected to dress conservatively. She can also be found wearing half- and quarter-sleeve dresses, but not sleeveless.
She is named for a fragrant jasmine flower found only in the Middle East. Her personality was designed to be "loving, caring, honest, and respects[ing of] her mother and father. She's good to her friends. She's honest and doesn't lie. She likes reading. She also likes and admires sophisticated fashion." Fulla has two friends, Yasmeen and Nada, as well as a little brother and sister. An older protective brother is in development for her, as well as a teacher and doctor Fulla, which are two careers that Fulla's creators believe to be respectable. Fulla will not have a boyfriend, because traditional Muslims do not believe in romantic relationships out of wedlock. Fulla's creators believe that Muslim parents become angry by the Western-inspired changes in views on sexuality, especially outside of marriage, meaning that Fulla is supposed to show traditional Islamic values and social order. She does, however, have many costumes, in addition to the hijab, that reflect the everyday wear of Muslim girls nowadays in some Middle Eastern countries that conform to Muslim values, yet are still considered fashionable in the West.
In Saudi Arabia, animated commercials display Fulla's life, such as showing the doll reciting her morning Fajr, baking a cake to surprise her friend, or reading a book at bedtime. Abidin says that these scenes are "designed to convey Fulla's values" and show what behaviour Fulla is promoting. Often, her commercials begin with her singing in a high voice in Arabic: "She will soon be by my side, and I can tell her my deepest secrets". Another series of commercials advertises her to be family-orientated, showing a group of Syrian actresses displaying Fulla silverware, stationery, and accessories. Fulla's commercials often promote modest outfits, such as one which warned, "When you take Fulla out of the house, don't forget her new spring abaya!"
Comparison to Barbie
Fulla and Barbie are about the same height. Differences between them include lifestyle and appearance. Fulla's activities mostly include shopping, spending time with her friends, cooking, reading, and praying. Barbie dolls come in a wide range of hobbies and careers. According to the brand manager at NewBoy, there will be a doctor and a teacher Fulla in the future, as "these are two respected careers for women that we would like to encourage small girls to follow."
Although they both have a wide range of clothes, furniture, jewelry, and other equipment, Fulla's outdoor clothes do not include swimwear or anything similarly revealing. Skirts are longer than knee-length, and Fulla's shoulders are always covered. Compared to Barbie's curves, thin legs, and large breasts, Fulla has a smaller chest, is thinner, and may be younger than Barbie. While the standard Barbie has blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin, the standard Fulla has dark hair, brown eyes, and olive skin. Despite this, they are both criticized "for presenting the same unrealistic idea of beauty... a certain image for women to conform to." Fulla was actually once described to be the physical antithesis of Mattel's Barbie.
Fulla is sold with a line of accessories, including umbrellas, watches, bicycles, corn flakes, cameras, CD players, inflatable chairs, and swimming pools. She was designed to be unlike Barbie and to be the traditional Muslim woman whose life revolves around home and family. Some Muslim parents have claimed that if girls dress their dolls in headscarves, they will be more encouraged to wear a hijab themselves. Fulla has been praised as giving girls a Muslim role model.
In many of the countries in which the doll is sold, Fulla is relatively expensive at about $10 for the standard doll. Because of this, NewBoy created a cheaper version of the doll called Fulla Style.
NewBoy library is considered the electronic portal to access all educational materials such as "books and electronic magazines" related to NewBoy products like Fulla for example.
Launched in Oct. 2006, the monthly Fulla magazine is published in Arabic and is targeted at young females up to twelve years of age.
The 48-page magazine covers a number of topics, stories and activities. Over 45,000 copies are distributed throughout the Gulf region and the Levant.
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Notes and references
- Khaleej Times Online.com. ""Pulla" - the Arab world’s Barbie". Retrieved July 21, 2006.
- Vanessa. "All Dolled Up...Well, Not Really". Feministing. Retrieved July 16, 2006.
- Arts & Entertainment.com. "Fulla—the Hijab-Wearing Barbie w/Muslim Values Thrives among Young Girls in the Middle East". Archived from the original on April 30, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2006.
- Liberty Post.org. "Barbie who? (Fulla, her Islamic counterpart takes her on)". Retrieved July 17, 2006.
- Al-Jadda, Souheila (December 13, 2005). "Move over, Barbie". USA Today. Retrieved July 13, 2006.
- Middle East.com (January 12, 2006). "Barbie loses out to veiled rival". BBC News. Retrieved July 13, 2006.
- The New York Times.com (September 22, 2005). "Bestseller in Mideast: Barbie With a Prayer Mat". Retrieved July 13, 2006.
- ANBA.com. "Virtual store wants to sell Muslim dolls in Brazil". Archived from the original on April 27, 2006. Retrieved July 13, 2006.
- "Hijab Doll Knock Barbie off Shelves". Islam Online. September 24, 2005. Archived from the original on November 22, 2005. Retrieved July 13, 2006.
- Abdel-Moneim, Amany (June 12, 2006). "Move Over, Barbie". Yale Global. Retrieved July 22, 2006.
- Arab world's demure Fulla is no Barbie wannabe
- "Fulla Doll Gains Popularity In Egypt". WCCO. CBS Broadcasting. January 14, 2006. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved July 17, 2006.
- Csmonitor.com. "Can Fulla save Muslim girls from Barbie?". Retrieved July 21, 2006.
- Chicago Sun-Times.com. "Bye-bye Barbie: Muslim families pick modest Fulla doll". Archived from the original on July 2, 2006. Retrieved July 13, 2006.
- Toydirectory.com. "The Road to Damascus: A Whole New Fashion Doll for the Middle East". Retrieved July 13, 2006.
- "Middle East: Islamic Doll Kicks Barbie's Ass". Western Resistance (Blog). September 22, 2005. Archived from the original on March 24, 2006. Retrieved July 13, 2006.[better source needed]
- International Herald Tribute.com. "Barbie pushed aside in Mideast cultural shift". Retrieved July 13, 2006.
- Middle East Online.com. "Veiled Fulla is Arab answer to Barbie". Retrieved July 13, 2006.
- Militant Islam Monitor.com. "Barbie converts to Islam and gets a hijab". Retrieved July 24, 2006.
- Tbt.com. "Doll that has it all (almost)". Retrieved July 21, 2006.