A British fitness instructor has sparked outrage among Muslims back home after travelling to Saudi Arabia to teach a woman the art of pole dancing
27-year-old Lucy Misch was whisked into the country, circumventing the usual difficulties faced by single Britons, to continue lessons started by a rich Saudi Arabian woman named Qahtani while she was visiting Europe.
Ahead of her trip, Misch shipped three X-Stage poles 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.
Misch put Qahtani through an intensive two-hour a day, six days a week, training course where she learned to climb the pol, do the splits upside down and perform a fluid routine.
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.'
However, Misch was quick to defend her position.
"I want to make it clear that pole dancing does not have its roots in strip clubs," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
'There has been a tradition of performing on the pole in China and India for centuries - way before Spearmint Rhino got their hands on it.'
"It's vital more people see it and realise it doesn't have to be about shaking your bits.
"It's a real skill. When you try it, you realise how hard it is. It takes strength, determination and skill," she added.