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This little Dolly Went to Market

This little Dolly Went to Market

Issue 66 March 2010

The $75 billion global toy market means that toys are not merely child’s play. Sarah Joseph examines the new dolls on the block who are eyeing up their share of the global Muslim market.


Fulla is the closest alternative to Barbie within the Muslim doll market. With an array of merchandising and websites all supported by slick marketing, it’s hard to miss Fulla pink in the Middle East. Yet Fulla’s creators, New Boy, want to disassociate their 11½in fashion doll from Barbie. In an article entitled, “Say Goodbye to Busty Barbie”, the corporate website admits “she is somewhat similar to Barbie but Fulla is an Islamic doll that is a role model to Muslim little girls in numerous ways.” Apparently, her “long black tresses and large hazel eyes” give emphasis to “the unique features of an Arab woman.” Does that mean that an Islamic doll has to look like an Arab? Surely a disappointment for the blonde, blued-eyed European, American and Australian Muslim girls out there; and the African Muslim girls; and the Indian, and the Indonesian... Indeed, given that less than 15% of the world’s Muslim population is Arab, her Arab looks don’t really make her a global Muslim icon.

 However, there is more to Fulla than her dark tresses, at least according to New Boy. In rather poor English their website explains, “She is a loving person, with a strong character. She loves and respects her siblings and mostly her mother and father. Aside from that she is seen with self worth and with a very high self esteem that gives high regard to her society. She is determined to take on the future’s challenges by making sure that she educates herself and pursue a lifetime career that would not only help her family but the society as well... Fulla can never be compared to Barbie because in ways and actions they are really very different from each other. Get out Busty Barbie, its Fulla’s turn now.”

 But Barbie is hardly a mass murderer! Her creators, Mattel, make sure that she is good to her family, and kind to her five younger sisters. New Boy promotes Fulla for having healthy career choices – teacher and doctor, but Barbie too has a whole series of “I Can Be” dolls which include doctor, dentist and vet. And whilst New Boy is keen to promote that little girls can play with Dentist Fulla and Teacher Fulla, the series also includes Hair Salon, Fashion Doll Set and Mini Mall. Indeed, the fuchsia pink interactive website for children to play on has tips on how “your clothes make you look thinner or larger,” apparently, “it’s nothing more than a matter of fooling the eye.”

 Fulla has taken the Middle East by storm. Given that Saudi Arabia banned Barbie in 2003 saying, “Their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence of the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful,” the market was an open goal. And the prize is large. Merchandising around Fulla includes everything from breakfast cereals to chewing gum, pull-along cases to bicycles, shampoo to perfume. As New Boy say on the Fulla website, “She is an end product of a very shrewd marketing.”

 Fulla is not the only “Muslim” 11½ in doll – there is Razanne, Leen, Jamila and Arrosa, but New Boy are keen to disassociate Fulla from these too. “Fulla is a great alternative not only to Barbie doll but also to other Muslim dolls who just donned a hijab and an abaya without the character and values.” I doubt whether the creators of these other dolls have visions of their creations as axe murderers and despite New Boy’s protestations to the contrary, it really seems that the only difference between the “Muslim dolls” and Barbie are the hijabs and abayas that the dolls have to wear. This may be enough for some parents, but the question remains – can a scarf fix a girl’s self-worth and body image, or are we just producing a generation of Hijabi Barbies?



Launched in 1996 by Palestinian-American, Ammar Saadeh, Razanne has a pre-pubescent figure, all Razanne dolls are equipped with the hijab. She debuted in the Middle East in 2004 with limited marketing, and does not have her own website.



Launched in 2003, Fulla is the closet thing to a Muslim Barbie that is on the market. Slightly shorter than Barbie with a slightly flatter figure, her creator’s New Boy are keen to promote the Fulla lifestyle. or



Jamila was launched as direct competition to Fulla by Simba Toys Middle East (a subsidiary of German based Simba-Dickie Group) in October 2006. Married to Jamil with two babies, Asad and Almira, Jamila lacks the merchandise and website of Fulla, but does come with crying baby.



Created by Syrian company, Kinan Toys, Leen comes with abaya and hijab. Blonde and blue-eyed, she recites surah al-Fatiha when pressed. 



Arrosa is an Indonesian addition to the Muslim doll market. With outfits spanning global fashion including South-East Asian selatan, Pakistani shalwar kameez, as well as Spanish and other traditional dresses, she has to one of the most cosmopolitan of the dolls on offer.


Zahrah Faceless

A rag doll complete with gingham dress and bunches, the only thing she appears to be missing is a face.



Saghira, Arabic for little, is a 17½in doll. Sold with hijab and non-hijab styles, she originates from Morocco.


Desi Dolls

Created by Briton Farzana Rahman, Desi Dolls are 16in soft rag-style dolls. The Muslim doll options, Yousuf and Aamina, recite prayers when pressed. Aimed at teaching young children basic duas in Arabic in 2010 the dolls will include proper tajweed.



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This feature was first published in Issue 67 (March 2010)


This little dolly went to Market


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Muslim Toys And Dolls

29 Jan 15, 22:08 has bigger pictures than but both have 3000 Islamic
products each and sell to adults and children and are charity
sites helping Muslims in need the world over.they are also
the largest seller of Islamic dolls with hijab in the world with
over 850 different dolls.we are diverse and we sell with
faces and without faces.and we sell store bought and
handmade.and we sell over 200 handmade fashion doll
11.5inch outfits with hijab.for fulla,arrosa,salma,jamilah and
even Barbie that are finelydetailed and
satin,chiffon,silk,lace,cotton and why not get great
Islamic gifts and at the same time help your brother and
sister in need.feeamani Allah,Sister Debbie Al-Harbi CEO

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Sister Debbie

27 Feb 10, 03:33

I believe in the Islamic Doll because of the values it represents respect,modesty,education,and more and I believe in it so much I am now the largest Islamic Doll and Islamic Doll clothes seller in the USA on my website called It has over 950 products mostly for children but for adults to.I sell over fifty Fulla doll products,100 Arrosa dolls,125 Islamic doll clothes that fit any 11.5" Doll and the ones I sell,I also sell all 5 styles of the Leen doll,nine styles of Salma Doll,Aamina and yousuf dolls and more.I also sell one of the largest learning Arabic sections in the USA with CD's,DVD's,audio tapes,books,electronic toys,flashcards,puzzles and more.i have an international website and sell all over the world.kindly take a look.fee aman Allah,Sister Debbie

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