Palestinian-American supermodel Bella Hadid has apologised after fans in the Middle East were insulted by a picture she posted on her Instagram story.

The photo, taken in an airport lounge, shows the sole of Hadid's boot raised towards the airport window. A Saudi Arabian and Emirates aircraft can be seen in the distance. She captioned the photo, "anotha one".

Photo / Instagram
Photo / Instagram

This is an extremely offensive gesture in Arab culture, as it implies the person is lower than the dirt on the sole.

The mixed heritage model — her mother is a Dutch-American while her father is Palestinian-American — shared the photo to her 27 million followers on Instagram before hastily pulling it down and posting an apology in both English and Arabic.

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Photo / Twitter
Photo / Twitter
Photo / Twitter
Photo / Twitter

The Saudi flag is considered especially sacred as it contains an inscription of the holy Islamic creed, or shahada: "There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of God".

Saudi Arabia does not allow the country's flag to be printed on clothing or other common items and in 2002 protested an official football planned for the FIFA World Cup that would bear the flags of all participating nations.