Out with the old, in with the new? A comparison of the Arab Spring's First Ladies

Published May 19th, 2013 - 13:18 GMT

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Safia Farkash Gadaffi
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Image 1 of 10: Safia Farkash, Gadaffi’s second wife. Aged 60, mother of seven of his eight children and worth $30 billion. Not bad for a cougar...and she’s recently single!

Rabeh Sahid
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Image 1 of 10: Rabeh Sahid, the secretive wife of the new Libyan leader Mohamed Magariaf, doesn’t have many pictures, but we think she’s a bit of a fox. Here’s her looking glam on the red carpet...

Suzanne Mubarak
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Image 1 of 10: Suzanne Mubarak, renowned ball-breaker. Said to have been very influential (read: pushy) of Hosni and was the driving force behind his bid for presidency. Half Welsh, she grew up in the Valleys before moving to Cairo as a young woman, when she married Mubarak aged 17.

Naglaa Mahmoud
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Image 1 of 10: Naglaa Mahmoud is the wife of new Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi. A great follower of tradition, she is often seen covered and dressed modestly in her public appearances, which has earned her criticism for being too conservative.

Leila Ben Ali
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Image 1 of 10: Leila Ben Ali, wife of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was a big philanthropist during her time in the spotlight. Haughty and fierce, we wouldn’t want to cross her...

Beatrix Rhein
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Image 1 of 10: Having been previously divorced, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki married French physician called Beatrix Rhein. She's rarely seen and there's a fair bit of controversy about her wallflower tendencies - Tunisian gossip websites are obsessed! Here she is, surrounded by security, in a picture taken a year ago.

Hero Ibrahim Ahmed
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Image 1 of 10: Wife of current Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, Hero (great name) has forged a career for herself in media and is rocking the classy older woman look.

veiled woman
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Image 1 of 10: No picture of the wife of previous Iraqi Prime Minister, Ibrahim Al Jaafari exists - we can't even find out her name! However, we do know she's got some connections that came in handy! She's a distant relative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shia cleric, who endorsed Al Jaafari's coalition after Saddam's regime fell.

Sajida Talfah Samira Shahbandar
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Image 1 of 10: As a bonus (since we couldn't find ol' Madam Jaafari) we're showcasing some of Saddam's finest ladies. Saddam obviously had a thing for alliteration when he was looking for his wives - he was married, amongst others, to Sajida Talfah and Samira Shahbandar. They were with him for the long haul, for 43 and 20 years respectively.

Asma Assad
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Image 1 of 10: Certainly a saucy specimen, Asma Assad has maintained elegant chic look and a winning smile throughout the Syrian revolution-turned conflict, even as her husband continues to massacre his countrymen by the tens-of-thousands.

With all the political turmoil in the Middle East brought in by the Arab Awakening, let’s not forget what’s really important - sussing out which of the latest First Ladies in the region are the hottest - and taking a moment to reflect on those no longer enjoying the limelight.


With a focus on those countries that have undergone a political transformation since 2011, we have scoured the internet high and low for photos of the First Ladies. Some of them are leaders in their own rights - Leila Ben Ali from Tunisia spearheaded many philanthropic causes during her time and Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, wife of current Iraqi president, has an illustrious career in Kurdish media. Some of these ladies are more reclusive and are rarely, if ever, seen by the public and very little information is known on them. It seems like only one picture of Mohamed Magariaf's wife exists - and we have it here to show you! We've tried to uncover the mystery surrounding these leading ladies, past and present, and push some of them into the spotlight for the first time.

So...from Saddam’s hareem to Morsi’s slice of modest-pie, how are the fresh First Ladies sizing up compared to their predecessors?

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