'Sara' and 'Dara' dolls are the Iranian Government's answer
to the 'harmful effects' of their American counterparts, Barbie
and Ken. Made by the Institute for the Intellectual Development
of Children and Young Adults, the Sara and Dara are part of
the government's effort to promote traditional Muslim values
in the country.
The toys come dressed in modest clothing, and have pro-family
backgrounds. Each of the four models of Sara comes with a
white headscarf. The toys cost just a third of the price of
a Barbie doll.
& Ken, American dolls
Toy seller Masoumeh Rahimi hailed the new
dolls. She said that the image of Barbie as buxom, blonde
and wearing revealing clothing was "more harmful than
an American missile". She was of the view that playing
with Barbie dolls could lead young girls to grow into women
who rejected Iranian values.
Sara & Dara, Iranian dolls
"Dara and Sara are strategic products
to preserve our national identity. And, of course, it is an
answer to Barbie and Ken, which have dominated Iran's toy
market," the Telegraph quoted Mehdi Hedayat, another
toy seller, as saying.
Dara and Sara started out as characters in schoolbooks, and
their lives have also grown into stories that are being sold
on cassette along with the dolls. The siblings help each other
to solve problems, and turn to their loving parents for guidance.
They are both supposed to be eight years old, young enough
under Islamic law for Sara to appear in public without a headscarf.
Around 100,000 dolls have been manufactured in China.
Marketed to children of Islamic and Middle-Eastern countries
alternative to Barbie, Fulla was created by a UAE manufacturer
This is not the first time that Barbie has
faced tough competition from a Muslim rival, for a veiled
doll named Fulla appeared on the shelves of Egypt's toy stores
in 2003, to meet demands of the people who did not want to
buy Barbie dolls for their daughters.