Image 1 of 20: Hot from the Arab press came the age-old rumors that female Israeli politician Tzipi Livni had been getting down and dirty with Palestinian officials - including her peace-talks counterpart, Saeb Erekat. Apparently this “Knesset beauty” is kinky - she filmed her subjects and used it for blackmail! Too juicy to be true?
Image 1 of 20: Osama Bin Laden might be jihad pinup boy - but he’s never been a posterboy for sexy charm and good looks. UK extremist Samantha Lewthwaite - dubbed the “White Widow” and potential leader of the mall attack in Kenya - wrote OBL a romantic poem in which she expressed her love for him. Might we suggest ANYONE ELSE to be your crush, Sam?
Image 1 of 20: Walk in London or NYC long enough, you’ll find a sex shop. If you’ve been shlepping it around the ME trying to find 50 Shades of Brown, look no further than Islamic cyberspace! The online candy shop sells “halal” products in compliance with Islamic norms (say what?) including the Muslim take on the Kama Sutra. Will wonders never cease?
Image 1 of 20: Syrian President Assad needs to give up office and go into a career in stand-up comedy. This chinless tyrant showed he’s capable of much more than war crimes when he said during an interview that he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize! “Inshallah” he was joking!
Image 1 of 20: We might have thought that an occupational hazard of wearing a niqab would be getting lost in the dark, not being mistaken for a chimp. A 19-year-old man in Saudi Arabia was arrested after shooting dead an elderly Shepherdess because he mistook her for a monkey. There are monkeys in the KSA...but mistaking a country-woman for an ape is so WTF!
Image 1 of 20: To the woman trying to break female stereotypes, we salute you. To the Polish woman trying to sleep with 100,000 men on a noble mission to “sex up” the Middle East we say: “really”?! For unlucky Anna Lisewska (and her long-suffering boyfriend), this one woman sex show was denied a visa from Lebanon, considered the most 'loose' Arab state.
Image 1 of 20: With the recent outbreak of the deadly MERS virus in camels, one might think that byproducts from our humped friends are being avoided like the plague. Seemingly not for those looking for luxury lactose in the US, where demand is high for milk fresh from the camel’s teat! Dubai has reportedly prepped their herds for dairy domination.
Image 1 of 20: Would you set someone on fire as an act of love for your fave politician? An Egyptian gal was set ablaze by a Morsi maniac after he heard her pro-Sisi ringtone. Although having customized ringtones is SO 2003, this bizarre story shows just how tense Egypt is in 2013 and how far political cleavages run along the Nile.
Image 1 of 20: Israel was left scratching its head after a Palestinian behind Israeli bars became a father - despite being well into his 25-year prison sentence. Dedicating her sperm-swiping to all Palestinians, his wife refused to spill the details. Although we're sure the deets aren’t pretty, we’re dying to know how she ejected the ejaculate!
Image 1 of 20: Croissants: the source of all evil, right? A fatwa issued in Aleppo slammed croissants as ‘haram’ (forbidden in Islam) due to their “colonial” vibes - their crescent shape represents European hegemony over Muslims. Syrians should find another brekkie treat that doesn’t hark back to High Commissioner times. You can forget porridge then!
Image 1 of 20: Pork pellets: 'Jihawg Ammo' claims to be “freedom’s first choice in defensive ammunition”. So what is their big sell? Pork coated bullets and Muslim-shaped targets of course! You can get your choice of a swine dressed in Arab garb with the words, “do 72 virgins a favor” or something a little classier, “Put some ham in MoHAMed.”
Image 1 of 20: KFC-- breaching a blockade near you! Despite Gaza’s disconnect due to Israeli blocks, people still get their chicken on. With a delivery time of just under 4 hours, the Colonel's drumsticks better be worth the wait. Counting smuggling fees, this greasy snack will cost you 3 times more than usual. "Inshallah" it will be "finger lickin' good"!
Image 1 of 20: After an arranged marriage to a 40 year old man, an eight year old Yemeni girl died on her wedding night due to sexual trauma and pelvic injuries caused by her new husband. The world was in outrage after learning that there were, and still are, no laws to protect children against such tribally accepted arranged marriages.
Image 1 of 20: The Saudi face that launched a thousand non-stories! Swooning Saudi women caused an international ruckus when it was reported that three men were deported from the KSA for being “too handsome”. It all turned out to be a ruse, however - one of the hunks, Omar Burkan, was allegedly in Canada at the time. What was all the brouhaha about?!
Image 1 of 20: A sinner's penance: Ten years after stabbing his friend in the back and rendering him paralyzed, a Saudi man was charged to pay for the crime “eye for an eye” or “legs for legs” rather. Unless the charged man can come up with $270,000, he is scheduled to serve his sentence of paralysis.
Image 1 of 20: While political sessions often get heated, bringing an AK-47 to parliament is a bit extreme. Not in Jordan, where after a tiff, an MP fired his weapon at his colleague in the parliamentary chambers. In the assailant’s defense, his colleague DID slap him in the face as they were attempting to quash their disagreements with a civilized handshake.
Image 1 of 20: Four Egyptian students were arrested for “Harlem Shaking” it in their skivvies. Due to Egypt’s strict indecency laws, “The students are accused of committing "a scandalous act," officials stated. We say, bit of an overreaction - especially considering Egypt is famous for scantily-clad shaking and pelvic thrusting, belly dancing-style!
Image 1 of 20: With an Instagram account comes great responsibility - someone tell that trendy IDF. An Israeli sniper posted a pic on the photo sharing site showing a sniper screen shot of the soldier's target, a Palestinian child. It came under fire for gross insensitivity and shed light on some of the IDF's morally bankrupt practices.
Image 1 of 20: Snubbing Mandela's funeral over money problems, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu hasn't penny pinched in the past. Bibi reportedly splashed out $2,700 on his favorite ice cream treats. With an apparent penchant for pistachio and vanilla, Bibi's loose fist - and the huge hike in Israeli taxes - left us shaking our heads.
Image 1 of 20: When stranded in Dubai and you just need a dozen condoms (minimum order) at midnight, who ya gonna call? SOS! The company, named after the distress call sign, boasts the tagline “save your date” and will bring rubbers to your door. Will this pave the way for more sexy deliveries? Watch that space in 2014 as Dubai keeps pushing the boat out!
Ahhhh, the Middle East. 2013's been a big year in Arabia - the region's politics (not to mention dirty laundry) have been splashed across global newsheadlines and with lurking fears of an all-out international war played out on Syrian soil, the revival of peace talks between Palestine and Israel and Mohammad Assaf winning Arab Idol, there’s been enough to talk about.
The Middle East is certainly never devoid of news - something is always rumbling and threatening to kick off. And although when you read BBC or CNN it may look like it’s Al Qaeda this, Iran that, and nefarious nuke threats all over the shop, there are also some truly bizarre, hilarious and disturbingly horrifying stories that come out of MENA.
From the upsetting death of an eight-year-old Yemeni girl on her wedding night (a story that got global attention and spurred on a human rights movement and may bring about changes to Yemen's laws) to the offbeat and wacky (think the Saudi stream of weird fatwas or the the endless eccentricities of the Palestinian rumour mill re: Israeli politicians and a new delivery condom service in Dubai), we’ve compiled a list of the stories that made us stop in our tracks in 2013.
These are Al Bawaba’s top 20 WTF moments from the Middle East in 2013. You simply couldn't make these up! Say what??