Behold, Omar! The man who was just too handsome

To suggest that women couldn't be expected to control themselves around a handsome man is plainly ridiculous. Yet flip the genders and it's a widely held view in the West

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Hubba hubba! Check out Omar Borkan Al Gala! This is the man deemed officially too sexy for Saudi Arabia. Earlier this month it was reported that a group of Emirati men, attending a cultural festival in Saudi Arabia, had been deported by the authorities, because, according to Arabic newspaper Elaph: “They are too handsome and the commission members feared female visitors could fall for them.” 

Photographs of one of these men have now been released, answering one question – how handsome is too handsome? – but raising several others. Such as: when Omar pours his curves into his skintight keffiyeh does he even consider the devastating effect he might have? And could the Saudi authorities also release pictures of the men considered merely handsome enough to warrant a verbal caution (“Cease and desist your sexiness”). This request is not for my own perving purposes, you understand. I’m concerned that other attractive male tourists have the opportunity to cover up before risking a visa application.

I jest, of course. To suggest that this man – any man – is so handsome that women could not be expected to control themselves is plainly ridiculous. Yet flip the genders and this is a view that is not only widely held in the West, but routinely gets all tarted up like “common sense” and goes out at night, asking for trouble.

The case of the handsome Emiratis is a refreshing role-reversal, but fighting lech with lech won’t get us very far. The notion that adults of either gender aren’t responsible for their own behaviour in the presence of sexy people needs to be laughed out of courtrooms for good.  Even in this case it appears there was a more drearily familiar sexism at work. The delegates say the real reason for their deportation was that the Saudis objected to the presence of a woman in their party. “Her visit to the UAE stand was a coincidence,” explained head of the delegation Saeed Al Kaabi, while presumably looking soulfully off into the distance with his dark, dreamy eyes.

***

I once believed that parents humiliated their children out of inadvertent uncoolness. How naïve I was. In an interview this week, President Barack Obama revealed an impressively devious parenting technique. He has told his daughters – Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11 – that if they ever get tattooed he and Michelle will get the same design, in the same place on their bodies, and then take to YouTube to show off the "family tattoo". You can bet Malia reconsidered that Chinese symbol above her belly button sharpish.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, George Bush Sr chose the austere occasion of his son's presidential library dedication in Dallas to debut some show-stealing new socks – hot pink with a purple polka dot. What we are witnessing here is not a sartorial senior moment, as some US newspapers have suggested, but an embarrassing dad working at the height of his powers. It could have been a head-swelling me-party for Bush Jr. Instead, it was a humbling reminder that even a 66-year-old former President is not too grand to be shown up in public by his old dad. Embarrassing dads, I'm on to you, and I'm loving your work.

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