Senior Syrian diplomat has a watch with Assad’s face on it

The latest in a line of dictator-kitsch watches – featuring the likes of Saddam Hussein and Mao Zedong – causes a stir

Faisal Mekdad's watch caught the attention of photographers
Faisal Mekdad's watch caught the attention of photographers

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, a long-serving diplomat who has often served as a voice for the regime in interviews with foreign media outlets, is evidently a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. A silver watch he wore throughout a recent interview with the Associated Press featured a small yet unmistakable portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The watch clearly caught the attention of Associated Press photographer Hassan Ammar, who snapped some close-up pictures of the watch.

Syrian minister Faisal Mekdad's watch, featuring a picture of his President, Bashar al-Assad

These photographs also led to discussions on Twitter by journalists and other analysts. Judging from previous photographs, Mr Mekdad has had the watch for at least 10 months. It's unclear if such a watch can be purchased online: One can certainly find watches with Mr Assad's face online, though they tend to be far less glamorous.

Mr Assad is far from the only leader whose picture you can find on watches: You can also buy watches with the face of Barack Obama online (Donald Trump watches are also readily available, of course). Generally, however, you're more likely to find the face of a strongman leader on a watch than a liberal – we can find no proof that any watches featuring the face of Francois Hollande exist, for example.

Perhaps the most widely known of the strongman watches is known as the "waving Mao," a watch featuring the late Mao Zedong that is widely sold in markets in China. The watch, notable for the way the Chinese leader's arm moves, began to be sold after his death in 1976. Watch experts say it could potentially be the best-selling watch in history.

Closer to home, watches featuring the face of Libya's Muammar Qaddafi or Iraq's Saddam Hussein are also well-known curios in the timekeeping world. In 2011, as violence broke out in Libya, one Channel 4 reporter was able to buy an impressive-looking Qaddafi watch for less than $10. Designer watches featuring Hussein's face are also still sought after by some collectors: The dictator is reported to have given out hundreds of Rolexes with his face on them as gifts.

In Syria, however, a watch like Mr Mekdad's isn't a kitsch relic. The Washington Post's Loveday Morris recently traveled through a number of government-held cities: She found a wide variety of pro-Assad souvenirs for sale, alongside others featuring the image of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Washington Post

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