A British fitness instructor who visited the strict Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia to teach a Saudi woman the art of pole dancing has sparked disapproval among UK Muslims back home.
27-year-old Lucy Misch was invited to the country by one of Saudi's richest and most influential families after a woman from the family attended a pole dancing class in Europe and reported back to her relatives living in the kingdom.
Misch's host - a 36-year-old working mother named Qahtani, one of only 15 per cent of women to have a job in Saudi, arranged for her to bypass the complicated laws of entrance and exit to the kingdom single Britons usually face, whisking her through Riyadh airport unimpeded.
Ahead of her trip, Mischa shipped three X-Stage poles worth £500 each to Qahtani - the first such poles ever allowed into Saudi Arabia - where they were installed in a specially dedicated mirrored room set up as a studio within her palace.
'Needless to say, there is no history of pole dancing in Saudi Arabia,' says Misch.
'It's not the kind of place you expect to be invited to teach pole. But my client's sister lives in Europe where she’d discovered pole dancing for fitness, and they’d talked about the amazing benefits pole can have on the body.'
'My client wanted the same things that attracted many others to pole dancing: an exhilarating workout to get her fit and toned.
'She liked the fact that it was a feminine exercise, and that she could feel liberated and sexy whilst doing it.'
Misch taught Qahtani - who is, unusually, the sole wife to her husband Mohammed - intensively for two hours each day, six days a week, teaching her to climb the pole, do the splits upside down and create a fluid routine.
The two trained in Lycra gym kit - a stark contrast from the abaya Saudi women wear in public.
As a stunt, Misch and her host took photos of themselves performing a pole dance wearing the abaya, Saudi Arabia's traditional dress.
'Qahtani wanted to make a point,' says Misch. 'But it angered a lot of people who thought the photos were insulting.'
When the photos were made public in the UK, Misch found she faced criticism from Saudi Muslims who had seen the pictures.
One said: 'I found your photos disrespectful towards women who wear the hijab with dignity in Saudi and who would never step next to a dancing pole knowing its hideous roots.'