Dinner with Dada? It's to die for

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The Independent Online
LIFE IN Saudi Arabia can be desert-like in more ways than one. But where else can you push your supermarket trolley round the aisles and encounter Idi Amin? Amin, we know, has been holed up in Jeddah since 1980. But a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, Ted Gup, recently embarked on a ''private search for the elusive dictator'' - by telephone - and lived to tell the tale in the Washington Post.

Amin wasn't just any old Ugandan dictator; he was, as Professor Gup says, ''the stereotypical African despot''. He bankrupted his nation and was responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of its people. A proud man, he proclaimed himself ''Conqueror of the British Empire'' as well as Uganda's heavyweight boxing champion.

Expatriates often bump into the 300lb Amin (a hard target to miss) in a popular supermarket and some, chillingly, ''say they have met him there in the frozen food aisle''. The sight of the exiled butcher of Uganda peering into the freezers and choosing a supply of microwaveable Lean Cuisine dinners must put shoppers off their own groceries.

But for those who want to chat, or to invite him round for a home-cooked meal, Mr Gup is happy to share Amin's telephone number with the world: (00-966-2) 693-3178.