Saturday, January 1, 2011

Stuff Arabs Like #4: Gratuitously Large Photos of Monarchs

Perhaps it's because of their dashing good looks--the heavily dyed goatee and mustache is rather becoming on an 87-year-old face.

Perhaps it's because they weren't elected--when the people haven't chosen their leader, their leader has to convince the people to love him.

Perhaps it's because he's the only guy in the Kingdom that'll let his photo get plastered on an 80 foot billboard...

Whatever the reason, if you're traveling in the Middle East, you're going to see large-and-in-charge photos of the monarchs of whatever Kingdom you're in. They will be on the side of the road with words of greeting and benevolence

Or leering at you from their ridiculously large gilded frame as you commute to work

Other times they're staring off into the distance through their Ray Bans from the back of a Dodge Charger

Even though I'm pretty sure that the last one was actually a self-portrait of the driver, whether you're in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or Bahrain, you're going to be surrounded by the faces of monarchs and sheikhs. They are faces that seem to say, "I see what you're doing. And I'm disappointed."

Unless, of course, you're King Abdullah. That guy is always smiling!

I can't say that I mind this appreciation the PR department of the King's staff has decided to impart on his people. It helps me to know who is in charge of the country I'm currently in, and thanks to the giant font on the signs in Saudi Arabia, gives me a chance to practice reading Arabic!

Vicariously yours,


  1. I love these and want you compile a book...for serious. I would buy it...even though I have already read the posts. That's friendship.

  2. The reason why there's a bunch of huge pictures of King Abdullah in the streets is to welcome him. Around 2-3 years ago, he came to the Eastern Province to celebrate 75 years since the establishment of Aramco. And of course he didn't just go to Aramco, so they put a lot of pictures welcoming him. Ask an Arab to read the phrases on the signs, they're all welcoming phrases.
    After that I guess they didn't see any reason to remove them.

  3. I really love this list of yours:) I hope you don't mind but I've linked to it here:

    Can't wait to read more of your list! Would you mind if I wanted to make a post adding a few to it? I would of course say it is your list, it's just that I can think of some funny things I'd like to see on it.