Mariah Carey’s Saudi Arabia Album Covers

Images purporting to show Saudi Arabian versions of Mariah Carey's album covers have recently appeared on the web. says that "Because of the laws over there her album covers had to be touched up to be made less sexy." Maybe. It sounds like something that would be done in Saudi Arabia. However, the lack of a clear source for these images makes me suspicious. They could equally well have been created by somebody playing around with photoshop. (And why is there no arabic script on these Saudi Arabian covers?) (And incidentally, I just read that Mariah Carey has 17 Number One singles, tying the number that Elvis had. This is odd because I'm unable to name a single song by her. With 17 #1 songs, I figured I'd know at least one of them.)

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Posted on Thu Dec 22, 2005


Don't feel bad, I wouldn't know that was Mariah Carey if ya hadn't said so.
Posted by Citizen Premier  on  Thu Dec 22, 2005  at  11:34 PM
suprisingly...elvis died before i was i cant name one of his #1 singles too.

i still respect the guy for his achievements
Posted by visitor  on  Fri Dec 23, 2005  at  12:20 AM
Don't feel too bad about it Alex, maybe your taste in music (much as does mine) goes WAY beyond the CRAP they are playing these days and calling "music"...
Posted by Christopher in Joplin, Missouri  on  Fri Dec 23, 2005  at  04:14 AM
I can definitly believe this. I was stationed in Qatar during the first half of 2003, and I went to a mall over there. Well, in the CD store, they had American music, and it was in English. (not sure about Saudi, but there's quite a bit of British citizens in Qatar) Anyway, tons of cd's had different covers on them, to make them less "sexy" I guess you could say.
If it was photoshopped, it was probably done on purpose by the companies who sell the cd's.
Posted by Mike  on  Fri Dec 23, 2005  at  05:23 AM
My mother worked at a distribution centre of a mail order firm. She says she spent hours with a marker pen blacking out women's bare arms and legs, crucifixes and bottles of alcohol in catalogues bound for Saudi and places with similar restrictions. Women's underwear pages were ripped out completely.
Posted by Paul  on  Fri Dec 23, 2005  at  07:37 AM
There actually is a Saudi Arabian music store called Megastar, and it does sell Western CDs although I couldn't find any Mariah Carey ones:

The website is extremely slow. In the above images the retouching looks very poor, but that doesn't necessarily mean the images are hoaxes, just that they were done cheaply, and they might be semi-official bootlegs.

My personal feeling is that if Island records was going to do this kind of thing it would be quicker and more effective to find simply crop out Mariah's body and zoom in on her face. Indeed, the majority of the album covers on the front page of Megastar use this format; they are close-ups of the artist's faces. And the Arabic music CDs I have seen are much the same, close-ups of people's face. I assume the album covers were originally done with Photoshop, and it would be the work of a moment to modify them. I also assume it would be cheaper to print off a few thousand CD booklets than it would be to hire some temps to airbrush the booklets.

Nonetheless, reading through:
(might not work in Mozilla) it does seem reasonable that Mariah's arms and legs would be covered up; i.e. it seems reasonable that this would happen in Saudi Arabia, not that it seems reasonable per se. Famously, women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, not even tourists.
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  on  Fri Dec 23, 2005  at  09:55 AM
My impression is that, regardless of the album covers, the content of Mariah Carey's recordings (like that of many other Western pop stars) is not the type of thing the Saudi censors would be likely to permit. Maybe you can get get away with selling such records in English (as opposed to Arabic), though.
Posted by Big Gary in Fairbanks, Alaska  on  Fri Dec 23, 2005  at  01:35 PM
Actually, I think she looks better in the covered up pictures. She looks like a slut in the real ones.
I've never been impressed with her. I find her extremely annoying. I agree with you Alex, I find it hard to believe she's had that many No.1 hits, although I can recall a few of them that I'd like to forget.
Posted by Glamcat  on  Fri Dec 23, 2005  at  08:20 PM
You would think that if the record commpanies had changed it, that the photoshopped pics would be better quality, or that they would use different covers for the Saudi niece of the market.
Posted by Lady Hedoniste  on  Fri Dec 23, 2005  at  08:40 PM
I worked for Lockheed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for 5 years. I can attest to the fact that the cd covers are altered, but the pics shown here are way too detailed. 99.9% of the time, the "offending" body part or object was just blacked out with a permanent magic marker. No one there would take the time to put any effort into making the "offending" item seem like part of the picture. People working for the "mutawah" (religious police) would do this afetr the product arrived in country.
Posted by Sam  on  Fri Dec 23, 2005  at  10:47 PM
It seems very odd that altering these for such a conservative culture would still leave the skin-tight effect. Surely deliniated breasts are offensive even if the garment seems to have a high neck and long sleeves?
Posted by cvirtue  on  Sat Dec 24, 2005  at  04:26 AM
... my favorite is the one where the cat is covering up her body... big ball of fluff 😛
Posted by Jackie  on  Sun Dec 25, 2005  at  04:23 PM
You know, I really believe this is true. I can't find it now, but I have seen a Saudi Arabian version of Emma Bunton (Baby Spice)'s second album, where she had had a pair of jeans photoshopped onover her bare legs! Pity I can't find it now...
Posted by Tom K  on  Mon Dec 26, 2005  at  03:28 AM
I don't buy it. Still way too suggestive, still way to skanky (and I actually like some of her stuff). Women can't even go outside with thier ankles and wrists showing, they wouldn't allow this.
Posted by angie  on  Mon Dec 26, 2005  at  11:27 AM
I live in Saudi Arabia, although I am a British citizen. I am not sure if the Mariah Carey CD covers are genuine, but the government over hear does insist that Cd covers, as well as videos, books and magazines, to name but a few, have to be "cleaned up". Even boxes containing swimming accessories have to have any women in swim suits blacked out. I think the photos are true
Posted by Jane Aunger  on  Tue Dec 27, 2005  at  02:01 PM
Everyone should admire, if not respect Mariah Carey's artistic abilities. She has written all of her number ones with the exception of "I'll be there" Elvis can't claim that. She also releases one CD every year, or every couple of years, when in older times they were released almost quarterly. Another thing to realize is that she gained acclaim solely on her voice, where as Elvis had the hip shaking and the Beatles had the Novelty of being foreign. It was only AFTER her first and second album that she began touring and concerts and things like that. And it was not until 1997, a full 7 years after her premire than she started dressing "sexier". So any claims that detract from her artistic ability have to be refuted. She has had no formal vocal training, and yet writes and performs hit after hit. She also has the beatles and Elvis beat as far as talent goes. Let's be honest, could any of the beatles outsing her? Is Elvis' voice better than Mariah's? The answer is a resounding HELL NO. So when it comes to pitting her with these people, she more than deserves her rank as legendary. Some of Elvis hits were posthumous..this is not to say that Elvis and the Beatles aren't incredible, but give her credit. Let's not forget the fact that not only is she black, but she's mixed too. Go Mariah...
Posted by Laurence  on  Wed Dec 28, 2005  at  01:34 AM
Mariah Carey
Posted by Laurence  on  Wed Dec 28, 2005  at  07:09 PM
what the fuck are these comments... duhh? Mariah is the most successful female singer of ALL TIME!!! ASSHOLES!!! STUPID PEEPS!!! These pictures are true adn not hoax, I've been to Saudi Arabia and they really do retouch pictures of this kind...
Posted by go to hell u guyz  on  Thu Dec 29, 2005  at  06:24 AM
People there is no need to be abusive. Whether or not you like her music is not what this is about. It is about whether the Saudis change cd covers, and yes they do, I live in Saudi. As for the insults I find them totally unacceptable, if you had decent vocabularies you wouldn't need to resort to crude language.
Posted by Jane Aunger  on  Thu Dec 29, 2005  at  08:32 AM
I'm a designer by trade, and these are clearly fakes. The image artifacts caused by photographing the design are identical in both versions. the only changes are:

1. editing of clothing
2. adding/subtracting fold lines
3. changing hue/saturation/brightness

the images are pixel for pixel the same in artifacting, at least as close as you can get with jpeg compression
Posted by Greg Schoppe  on  Thu Dec 29, 2005  at  11:02 PM
oh, and a bit of crop/resize
Posted by Greg Schoppe  on  Thu Dec 29, 2005  at  11:06 PM
On the "megastar" website above, I noticed
this picture of a Britney Spears album cover.

Compared with the original picture, a less revealing shirt has obviously been photoshopped in, although it was done slightly better than the Mariah Carey covers. So there you go.
Posted by mia  on  Sat Feb 04, 2006  at  09:44 PM
I have to admit, Mariah does look a lot better when she is covered. Though im not a fan, she doesn't need to show the amount of skin she does show, she has a great voice
Posted by Eva  on  Sat Mar 18, 2006  at  05:23 PM
These covers are genuine. I own a few algums listed on this site. Proof:

Posted by Mick  on  Sat Oct 21, 2006  at  04:28 PM
I can attest to the fact that the cd covers are altered, but the pics shown here are way too detailed. 99.9% of the time, the "offending" body part or object was just blacked out with a permanent magic marker. No one there would take the time to put any effort into making the "offending" item seem like part of the picture.
Posted by Scott Brison  on  Tue Feb 20, 2007  at  11:30 AM
Posted by Al Strada  on  Sat Apr 21, 2007  at  10:42 PM
Well, the REAL Mariah Carey album covers are almost completely Photoshop paintings anyway. The only difference is that they're BETTER paintings than these Saudi coverups.
Posted by rokusan  on  Sun Apr 22, 2007  at  05:56 AM
Yes, Mariah Carey has had that many number one singles. She's an incredibly talented singer with an 8 octave range, although much of the material she performs is quite forgettable and for some reason sounds uninspiring. She has sold more records than the previous queen of pop/soul (Diana Ross), however I don't think she's sold more records than Madonna. Madonna is currently the queen as fas as record sales go.

The only thing I find difficult to believe about these retouching jobs is how bad they are. They look pretty cheesy, but I can definitely imagine a country like Saudi Arabia only permitting album covers with subdued or altered graphics of the originals
Posted by mediapusher  on  Tue Sep 18, 2007  at  11:29 AM
if u dont know any mariah song or mariah herself means ur a loser! MARIAH IS THE BEST EVEN IN ASIA! IM AN ASIAN
Posted by crybabydoll  on  Thu Sep 27, 2007  at  06:18 PM
I was once a regular customer of the Megastar store here in Jeddah Saudi Arabia. It does sell Western Music like Ashley Pomeroy said. The store was located in Heraa Mall. The Best of wham tape I had right now was actually manufactured by one of Megastar's companies here in Saudi Arabia.
Posted by Abdulla Sulaimani  on  Sun Feb 03, 2008  at  07:53 AM
Mariah Carey - forever young! forever sexy singer!
Posted by CD Reviews  on  Tue Mar 25, 2008  at  07:18 AM
I was in Saudi for 10 years, and yes some of the album covers were doctored by marker pen (washable off if a suitable solvent is available) sometimes they didn't unwrap them so the marker pen was on the cellophane wrapper (that was easy to get rid of).
Posted by Rob  on  Sat May 16, 2009  at  03:22 AM
I've never heard a Mariah Carey song either. Of course I'm deaf, and live in a cave with no electricity.
Posted by Shaddup  on  Sun Mar 07, 2010  at  09:53 AM
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