Pictures of a migrant worker forced to dress as a hand sanitizer in the lobby of the oil giant Saudi Aramco's headquarters have caused outrage after going viral.
The pictures emerged Tuesday, showing a man wearing a face mask and a box with the words "hand sanitizer" written on it, as well as an actual dispenser, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The images were widely criticized on Twitter as exploitative and racist — another example of employees being abused in Saudi Arabia, which has been plagued by scandal after scandal around systematic mistreatment of its several million migrant workers.
It was also cited as another example of "coronavirus racism."
Though Saudi Arabia has put in place some reforms, including planning to do away with the employer sponsorship system that rights groups said fueled the abuses of workers, migrants in the country still enjoy few rights.
An email to Brunswick, the PR firm that represents Saudi Aramco, went unanswered, but only after the pictures went viral did Saudi Aramco say on Twitter that it was "strongly dissatisfied" with what had happened and that it had taken measures to prevent it from happening again.
The statement, which was only published on its Arabic Twitter account, left unclear who had arranged for the man to be dispensing hand sanitizer in the company's lobby or why. The post did not include an apology to the man himself.
There are 21 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in Saudi Arabia, which has taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus by banning religious lessons at mosques and suspending travel to and from 14 counties.
Saudi Aramco is the most valuable company in the world, and in December, its initial public offering was the largest in history at $1.7 trillion.
Saudi Arabia is currently waging an oil price war against Russia, which when added to the global fallout from the coronavirus, has led to markets crashing around the world.