When They Were Young: Mideast Leaders in Their Prime

Published April 3rd, 2012 - 14:43 GMT

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Heavy is the head that carries the crown, and no one represents this more than the weary leaders of the Middle East. At Al Bawaba HQ, the editors came upon a nice attache of youthful, sometimes embarassing, photos of the Middle East's most prominent male figures. The region's pioneers in their prime!

These heads of  states- Arab kings and Presidents, current and past,  over all show a staggering degree of aging. It's as though this panel of guys have carried the world's weight on their shoulders -- or at least the Middle East's burdens. Continue reading below »

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Who is the leader behind this handsome face? He hasn't grown out of his gun-totting ways, but is even more threatening now at the helm of the state of Israel. Clue: It's all in that arresting deep voice. It's none other than Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, before taking the reigns of an unpopular state took its toll on his hairline.
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Image 1 of 11:  1 / 11Who is the leader behind this handsome face? He hasn't grown out of his gun-totting ways, but is even more threatening now at the helm of the state of Israel. Clue: It's all in that arresting deep voice. It's none other than Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, before taking the reigns of an unpopular state took its toll on his hairline.

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Baby Bashar: Can you imagine this cutie went on to kill 8,000, and counting, Syrians? Then again, his mother can't be too surprised considering she married Hafez Al Assad whose CV includes Hama 1982.
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Image 2 of 11:  2 / 11Baby Bashar: Can you imagine this cutie went on to kill 8,000, and counting, Syrians? Then again, his mother can't be too surprised considering she married Hafez Al Assad whose CV includes Hama 1982.

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Dashing on horseback and the most shocking entry on this list, Muammar Gaddafi used to be a bit of 'dish'. So, we're wondering: Whatever happened??
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Image 3 of 11:  3 / 11Dashing on horseback and the most shocking entry on this list, Muammar Gaddafi used to be a bit of 'dish'. So, we're wondering: Whatever happened??

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Who would have thought that this ambitious Egyptian soldier would go on to take the president's seat? The right man in the right place, Husni Mubarak went from fresh-faced soldier to reviled fallen leader in the oh-so-short period of fifty years.
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Image 4 of 11:  4 / 11Who would have thought that this ambitious Egyptian soldier would go on to take the president's seat? The right man in the right place, Husni Mubarak went from fresh-faced soldier to reviled fallen leader in the oh-so-short period of fifty years.

Enlarge
Never a pretty face, Ariel Sharon used to be more tolerable to look at before becoming the bulldozer of Israeli politics today. It would seem that war crimes and genocide have significant aging effects.
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Image 5 of 11:  5 / 11Never a pretty face, Ariel Sharon used to be more tolerable to look at before becoming the bulldozer of Israeli politics today. It would seem that war crimes and genocide have significant aging effects.

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Looking sweet and whimsical, UAE's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid went on to marry Jordan's Princess Haya and to become one of the Mideast's most distinguished leaders.
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Image 6 of 11:  6 / 11Looking sweet and whimsical, UAE's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid went on to marry Jordan's Princess Haya and to become one of the Mideast's most distinguished leaders.

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In a quirky twist that no other leader can include in their bragging rights, a younger HM King Abdullah (before taking on his kingly duties) had a brief cameo on Star Trek. Who said Arab leaders aren't fun?
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Image 7 of 11:  7 / 11In a quirky twist that no other leader can include in their bragging rights, a younger HM King Abdullah (before taking on his kingly duties) had a brief cameo on Star Trek. Who said Arab leaders aren't fun?

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HM King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (KSA) the younger. An exuberant version of the current popular King of KSA - can still be easily recognized thanks to his similar choice of look in the facial hair department. Same classic goatee-moustache combo.
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Image 8 of 11:  8 / 11HM King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (KSA) the younger. An exuberant version of the current popular King of KSA - can still be easily recognized thanks to his similar choice of look in the facial hair department. Same classic goatee-moustache combo.

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Late King Hussein of Jordan- The younger version appears as elegant as ever. A stylish choice in boater hat!
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Image 9 of 11:  9 / 11Late King Hussein of Jordan- The younger version appears as elegant as ever. A stylish choice in boater hat!

Enlarge
Saddam Hussein. Back when speedos were more accepted, Saddam was never too modest, whether flaunting his tell-tale, signature tache, or invading neighbors in front of the camera. The giveaway is that distinctive, Michael Douglas-esque chin. But had that evil glint in his eye early on.
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Image 10 of 11:  10 / 11Saddam Hussein. Back when speedos were more accepted, Saddam was never too modest, whether flaunting his tell-tale, signature tache, or invading neighbors in front of the camera. The giveaway is that distinctive, Michael Douglas-esque chin. But had that evil glint in his eye early on.

Enlarge
Yasser Arafat, God bless his efforts for Palestine, discovered that the Keffiyeh (traditional Arab headdress) was a good look for him, early on. And we can see why. If you thought his most salient feature were his full lips, you should take a look at his forehead.
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Image 11 of 11:  11 / 11Yasser Arafat, God bless his efforts for Palestine, discovered that the Keffiyeh (traditional Arab headdress) was a good look for him, early on. And we can see why. If you thought his most salient feature were his full lips, you should take a look at his forehead.

Enlarge

1

Who is the leader behind this handsome face? He hasn't grown out of his gun-totting ways, but is even more threatening now at the helm of the state of Israel. Clue: It's all in that arresting deep voice. It's none other than Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, before taking the reigns of an unpopular state took its toll on his hairline.

Image 1 of 11Who is the leader behind this handsome face? He hasn't grown out of his gun-totting ways, but is even more threatening now at the helm of the state of Israel. Clue: It's all in that arresting deep voice. It's none other than Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, before taking the reigns of an unpopular state took its toll on his hairline.

2

Baby Bashar: Can you imagine this cutie went on to kill 8,000, and counting, Syrians? Then again, his mother can't be too surprised considering she married Hafez Al Assad whose CV includes Hama 1982.

Image 2 of 11Baby Bashar: Can you imagine this cutie went on to kill 8,000, and counting, Syrians? Then again, his mother can't be too surprised considering she married Hafez Al Assad whose CV includes Hama 1982.

3

Dashing on horseback and the most shocking entry on this list, Muammar Gaddafi used to be a bit of 'dish'. So, we're wondering: Whatever happened??

Image 3 of 11Dashing on horseback and the most shocking entry on this list, Muammar Gaddafi used to be a bit of 'dish'. So, we're wondering: Whatever happened??

4

Who would have thought that this ambitious Egyptian soldier would go on to take the president's seat? The right man in the right place, Husni Mubarak went from fresh-faced soldier to reviled fallen leader in the oh-so-short period of fifty years.

Image 4 of 11Who would have thought that this ambitious Egyptian soldier would go on to take the president's seat? The right man in the right place, Husni Mubarak went from fresh-faced soldier to reviled fallen leader in the oh-so-short period of fifty years.

5

Never a pretty face, Ariel Sharon used to be more tolerable to look at before becoming the bulldozer of Israeli politics today. It would seem that war crimes and genocide have significant aging effects.

Image 5 of 11Never a pretty face, Ariel Sharon used to be more tolerable to look at before becoming the bulldozer of Israeli politics today. It would seem that war crimes and genocide have significant aging effects.

6

Looking sweet and whimsical, UAE's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid went on to marry Jordan's Princess Haya and to become one of the Mideast's most distinguished leaders.

Image 6 of 11Looking sweet and whimsical, UAE's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid went on to marry Jordan's Princess Haya and to become one of the Mideast's most distinguished leaders.

7

In a quirky twist that no other leader can include in their bragging rights, a younger HM King Abdullah (before taking on his kingly duties) had a brief cameo on Star Trek. Who said Arab leaders aren't fun?

Image 7 of 11In a quirky twist that no other leader can include in their bragging rights, a younger HM King Abdullah (before taking on his kingly duties) had a brief cameo on Star Trek. Who said Arab leaders aren't fun?

8

HM King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (KSA) the younger. An exuberant version of the current popular King of KSA - can still be easily recognized thanks to his similar choice of look in the facial hair department. Same classic goatee-moustache combo.

Image 8 of 11HM King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (KSA) the younger. An exuberant version of the current popular King of KSA - can still be easily recognized thanks to his similar choice of look in the facial hair department. Same classic goatee-moustache combo.

9

Late King Hussein of Jordan- The younger version appears as elegant as ever. A stylish choice in boater hat!

Image 9 of 11Late King Hussein of Jordan- The younger version appears as elegant as ever. A stylish choice in boater hat!

10

Saddam Hussein. Back when speedos were more accepted, Saddam was never too modest, whether flaunting his tell-tale, signature tache, or invading neighbors in front of the camera. The giveaway is that distinctive, Michael Douglas-esque chin. But had that evil glint in his eye early on.

Image 10 of 11Saddam Hussein. Back when speedos were more accepted, Saddam was never too modest, whether flaunting his tell-tale, signature tache, or invading neighbors in front of the camera. The giveaway is that distinctive, Michael Douglas-esque chin. But had that evil glint in his eye early on.

11

Yasser Arafat, God bless his efforts for Palestine, discovered that the Keffiyeh (traditional Arab headdress) was a good look for him, early on. And we can see why. If you thought his most salient feature were his full lips, you should take a look at his forehead.

Image 11 of 11Yasser Arafat, God bless his efforts for Palestine, discovered that the Keffiyeh (traditional Arab headdress) was a good look for him, early on. And we can see why. If you thought his most salient feature were his full lips, you should take a look at his forehead.

Reduce

Here is our selection of Middle Eastern leaders when they still had a spring in their step, rather than an Arab Spring on their hands.

Have your say! Who do you think is the best looking of the bunch? Do any of their "before" shots leave you feeling nostalgic for yesteryear? Or wishing you got in there sooner as their first lady?

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