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


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.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: Our representatives must represent us

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot