Liz Taylor in a hijab and Obama in a thobe: Western celebs go East for the day

Published August 23rd, 2012 - 09:41 GMT

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Hollywood stars are probably more used to the kind of make-over that comes from the work of a hairstylist, make-up artist or - let's face it - cosmetic surgeon. But, Bahraini artist Mohammed Kanoo has proved that a bit of imagination and artistic prowess can make for a bigger transformation than all the collagen in LA. 

In 'A Question of Identity' - the artist's recent exhibition at Dubai's Meem Gallery - Kanoo took celebrities like Angelina Jolie and John Travolta out of designer threads and into Arab clothing. And he didn't stop at Hollywood - turning his attention to Washington even Barak Obama couldn't escape the Arab treatment.  Continue reading below »

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Audrey Hepburn: An international traveler with a love of diamonds? Hepburn’s most famous character in Breakfast at Tiffanys surely wouldn’t be out of place in Dubai.
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Image 1 of 12:  1 / 12Audrey Hepburn: An international traveler with a love of diamonds? Hepburn’s most famous character in Breakfast at Tiffanys surely wouldn’t be out of place in Dubai.

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Danny Devito: They say Italians and Arabs have a lot in common and the comedy star never looked more dashing than in a dishdasha.
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Image 2 of 12:  2 / 12Danny Devito: They say Italians and Arabs have a lot in common and the comedy star never looked more dashing than in a dishdasha.

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Elizabeth Taylor: The Queen of the Nile would surely make a fantastic Arabian princess given all the practice she got from playing Cleopatra.
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Image 3 of 12:  3 / 12Elizabeth Taylor: The Queen of the Nile would surely make a fantastic Arabian princess given all the practice she got from playing Cleopatra.

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Elvis Presley: ‘Suspicious Minds’? Well Arabs love a good conspiracy theory but hopefully the American icon would make a better impression than his nation’s politicians in the region.
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Image 4 of 12:  4 / 12Elvis Presley: ‘Suspicious Minds’? Well Arabs love a good conspiracy theory but hopefully the American icon would make a better impression than his nation’s politicians in the region.

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George Bush: The arch enemy of so many Arabs after the invasion on Iraq, the former US president has left a lasting impression on the Middle East.
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Image 5 of 12:  5 / 12George Bush: The arch enemy of so many Arabs after the invasion on Iraq, the former US president has left a lasting impression on the Middle East.

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George Clooney: He was arrested in Sudan, makes movies criticizing the US government’s policies in the Middle East and is considered some of the world’s best eye-candy. Not bad for an American!
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Image 6 of 12:  6 / 12George Clooney: He was arrested in Sudan, makes movies criticizing the US government’s policies in the Middle East and is considered some of the world’s best eye-candy. Not bad for an American!

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Johnny Depp: The Pirates of the Caribbean star in a shemagh? Well we don’t see the connection but this Hollywood outsider still looks cool in a keffiyeh.
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Image 7 of 12:  7 / 12Johnny Depp: The Pirates of the Caribbean star in a shemagh? Well we don’t see the connection but this Hollywood outsider still looks cool in a keffiyeh.

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Kate Middleton: Royalty by marriage with a lifetime spent in Britain’s better schools. The Duchess of Cambrige sounds like a perfect candidate to be a Saudi princess.
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Image 8 of 12:  8 / 12Kate Middleton: Royalty by marriage with a lifetime spent in Britain’s better schools. The Duchess of Cambrige sounds like a perfect candidate to be a Saudi princess.

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Kim Jong Il: Militant dictator? Check. Regular nuclear weapons threats to the West? Check. Perhaps this former Korean supreme leader should take on a role as the current Syrian president.
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Image 9 of 12:  9 / 12Kim Jong Il: Militant dictator? Check. Regular nuclear weapons threats to the West? Check. Perhaps this former Korean supreme leader should take on a role as the current Syrian president.

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Naomi Campbell: She frequently found lounging on a cruise ship or throwing tantrums at the airport. Sounds like the supermodel is not so very different from one or two Emirati sheikhas.
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Image 10 of 12:  10 / 12Naomi Campbell: She frequently found lounging on a cruise ship or throwing tantrums at the airport. Sounds like the supermodel is not so very different from one or two Emirati sheikhas.

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Susan Sarandon: She’s participated in anti-government protests and holds a strong stance against the invasion on Iraq. This legendary US actress sounds like an Arab-springer to us.
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Image 11 of 12:  11 / 12Susan Sarandon: She’s participated in anti-government protests and holds a strong stance against the invasion on Iraq. This legendary US actress sounds like an Arab-springer to us.

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Barack Obama: The region had such high hopes for the first African-American US president but despite his opening speech in Cairo, Obama has shown Arabs he’s far from understanding the Middle East.
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Image 12 of 12:  12 / 12Barack Obama: The region had such high hopes for the first African-American US president but despite his opening speech in Cairo, Obama has shown Arabs he’s far from understanding the Middle East.

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1

Audrey Hepburn: An international traveler with a love of diamonds? Hepburn’s most famous character in Breakfast at Tiffanys surely wouldn’t be out of place in Dubai.

Image 1 of 12Audrey Hepburn: An international traveler with a love of diamonds? Hepburn’s most famous character in Breakfast at Tiffanys surely wouldn’t be out of place in Dubai.

2

Danny Devito: They say Italians and Arabs have a lot in common and the comedy star never looked more dashing than in a dishdasha.

Image 2 of 12Danny Devito: They say Italians and Arabs have a lot in common and the comedy star never looked more dashing than in a dishdasha.

3

Elizabeth Taylor: The Queen of the Nile would surely make a fantastic Arabian princess given all the practice she got from playing Cleopatra.

Image 3 of 12Elizabeth Taylor: The Queen of the Nile would surely make a fantastic Arabian princess given all the practice she got from playing Cleopatra.

4

Elvis Presley: ‘Suspicious Minds’? Well Arabs love a good conspiracy theory but hopefully the American icon would make a better impression than his nation’s politicians in the region.

Image 4 of 12Elvis Presley: ‘Suspicious Minds’? Well Arabs love a good conspiracy theory but hopefully the American icon would make a better impression than his nation’s politicians in the region.

5

George Bush: The arch enemy of so many Arabs after the invasion on Iraq, the former US president has left a lasting impression on the Middle East.

Image 5 of 12George Bush: The arch enemy of so many Arabs after the invasion on Iraq, the former US president has left a lasting impression on the Middle East.

6

George Clooney: He was arrested in Sudan, makes movies criticizing the US government’s policies in the Middle East and is considered some of the world’s best eye-candy. Not bad for an American!

Image 6 of 12George Clooney: He was arrested in Sudan, makes movies criticizing the US government’s policies in the Middle East and is considered some of the world’s best eye-candy. Not bad for an American!

7

Johnny Depp: The Pirates of the Caribbean star in a shemagh? Well we don’t see the connection but this Hollywood outsider still looks cool in a keffiyeh.

Image 7 of 12Johnny Depp: The Pirates of the Caribbean star in a shemagh? Well we don’t see the connection but this Hollywood outsider still looks cool in a keffiyeh.

8

Kate Middleton: Royalty by marriage with a lifetime spent in Britain’s better schools. The Duchess of Cambrige sounds like a perfect candidate to be a Saudi princess.

Image 8 of 12Kate Middleton: Royalty by marriage with a lifetime spent in Britain’s better schools. The Duchess of Cambrige sounds like a perfect candidate to be a Saudi princess.

9

Kim Jong Il: Militant dictator? Check. Regular nuclear weapons threats to the West? Check. Perhaps this former Korean supreme leader should take on a role as the current Syrian president.

Image 9 of 12Kim Jong Il: Militant dictator? Check. Regular nuclear weapons threats to the West? Check. Perhaps this former Korean supreme leader should take on a role as the current Syrian president.

10

Naomi Campbell: She frequently found lounging on a cruise ship or throwing tantrums at the airport. Sounds like the supermodel is not so very different from one or two Emirati sheikhas.

Image 10 of 12Naomi Campbell: She frequently found lounging on a cruise ship or throwing tantrums at the airport. Sounds like the supermodel is not so very different from one or two Emirati sheikhas.

11

Susan Sarandon: She’s participated in anti-government protests and holds a strong stance against the invasion on Iraq. This legendary US actress sounds like an Arab-springer to us.

Image 11 of 12Susan Sarandon: She’s participated in anti-government protests and holds a strong stance against the invasion on Iraq. This legendary US actress sounds like an Arab-springer to us.

12

Barack Obama: The region had such high hopes for the first African-American US president but despite his opening speech in Cairo, Obama has shown Arabs he’s far from understanding the Middle East.

Image 12 of 12Barack Obama: The region had such high hopes for the first African-American US president but despite his opening speech in Cairo, Obama has shown Arabs he’s far from understanding the Middle East.

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This exhibition is about a lot more than clothing though. Through this presentation of famous westerners, Kanoo has suggested that regardless of origin, dress, religion or political sway we are all one and the same. Importantly his pieces hint towards the necessity of greater social tolerance in a complicated world - now that's an idea even the best nose job couldn't evoke!

 

What do you think of Mohammed Kanoo's pieces? Leave us your comments below!

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