Jocks, Rockers, and Stamp Collectors: The secret pastimes of Arab Leaders

Published April 3rd, 2015 - 04:15 GMT

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Arab leaders have been famous, or more accurately infamous, for many things - but what about their less obvious “talents”? In this SS we aim to detach from regional politics (we know it’s not easy) and present some of the less contentious sides of MidEast leaders.

With no shortage of drama and conflict throughout the region, you’d think these men (unfortunately, there’s not a female in the bunch) have no idle time on their hands. But the boys do seek out ways to unwind. Continue reading below »

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Jordan’s King Abdullah loves fast cars & motorcycles, he’s dove from planes & under the sea, but these hobbies are taboo since he assumed the throne. He’s also an avid football fan (it helps that his brother Prince Ali heads up the Jordan Football Association!) and sci-fi aficionado, once famously appearing as an extra on Star Trek!
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Image 1 of 10:  1 / 10Jordan’s King Abdullah loves fast cars & motorcycles, he’s dove from planes & under the sea, but these hobbies are taboo since he assumed the throne. He’s also an avid football fan (it helps that his brother Prince Ali heads up the Jordan Football Association!) and sci-fi aficionado, once famously appearing as an extra on Star Trek!

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President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked Egyptians to cycle and walk more (to help his cash-strapped government that spends billions of dollars a year on fuel subsidies), then hopped on his bike as part of a Cairo cycling marathon. But his choice of wheels (a $4,300 USD Peugeot) took the air out of his tires when pleading for national austerity.
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Image 2 of 10:  2 / 10President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked Egyptians to cycle and walk more (to help his cash-strapped government that spends billions of dollars a year on fuel subsidies), then hopped on his bike as part of a Cairo cycling marathon. But his choice of wheels (a $4,300 USD Peugeot) took the air out of his tires when pleading for national austerity.

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Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad is known in his entourage for his dry sense of humor, and hobbies that include cycling, keeping up with technology trends, and photography. That last one could prove handy in documenting his destruction of his people and their country. A PlayStation® hobby is also rumored.
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Image 3 of 10:  3 / 10Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad is known in his entourage for his dry sense of humor, and hobbies that include cycling, keeping up with technology trends, and photography. That last one could prove handy in documenting his destruction of his people and their country. A PlayStation® hobby is also rumored.

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Saudi’s king is a bookworm with a private library holding 20,000 volumes! Assuming the throne 2 months ago has cut into his reading time, so he may be lending his books out. Hope he puts his full name on the bookplate - Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud - so they can be returned.
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Image 4 of 10:  4 / 10Saudi’s king is a bookworm with a private library holding 20,000 volumes! Assuming the throne 2 months ago has cut into his reading time, so he may be lending his books out. Hope he puts his full name on the bookplate - Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud - so they can be returned.

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Rock the Casbah! Wasn’t long ago that heavy metal music would get you jailed in Morocco, but don’t tell that to the head-bangers dancing wildly at Casablanca's Tremplin Festival! The alternative music scene in the country is alive and kicking; it has even received a grant from King Mohammed VI, himself a fan! He also loves a good hunt.
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Image 5 of 10:  5 / 10Rock the Casbah! Wasn’t long ago that heavy metal music would get you jailed in Morocco, but don’t tell that to the head-bangers dancing wildly at Casablanca's Tremplin Festival! The alternative music scene in the country is alive and kicking; it has even received a grant from King Mohammed VI, himself a fan! He also loves a good hunt.

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Bedouin bedtime tales? Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was one of the world’s longest-serving leaders whose notoriously odd speeches didn't jibe with his reported love of Bedouin poetry. The colonel, who often slept in a Bedouin tent protected by dozens of female bodyguards, preferred that others read him the poems.
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Image 6 of 10:  6 / 10Bedouin bedtime tales? Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was one of the world’s longest-serving leaders whose notoriously odd speeches didn't jibe with his reported love of Bedouin poetry. The colonel, who often slept in a Bedouin tent protected by dozens of female bodyguards, preferred that others read him the poems.

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The cultured and sophisticated King Abdullah the First of Jordan was a highly popular character among Arabs and often credited with creating the 20th century Arab Revolt. This highly intelligent, worldly-wise warrior was a superb chess player. What better game to prepare for international battle?
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Image 7 of 10:  7 / 10The cultured and sophisticated King Abdullah the First of Jordan was a highly popular character among Arabs and often credited with creating the 20th century Arab Revolt. This highly intelligent, worldly-wise warrior was a superb chess player. What better game to prepare for international battle?

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Egyptian King Farouq amassed one of the most famous coin collections in history including two 1913 Liberty Head nickels and an extremely rare American Gold Minted 1933 Double Eagle. He and his son Fouad were both so obsessed with collecting stamps, they funded a national stamp-collecting agency!
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Image 8 of 10:  8 / 10Egyptian King Farouq amassed one of the most famous coin collections in history including two 1913 Liberty Head nickels and an extremely rare American Gold Minted 1933 Double Eagle. He and his son Fouad were both so obsessed with collecting stamps, they funded a national stamp-collecting agency!

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Iraq prez Saddam Hussein had a lifelong passion for rare cars, but he cultivated new hobbies during his final imprisonment like penning poems and snacking on American cookies.The prisoner that the guards called Vic (short for Very Important Criminal) also cultivated a garden, caring for a few shrubs and bushes (was one called George?).
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Image 9 of 10:  9 / 10Iraq prez Saddam Hussein had a lifelong passion for rare cars, but he cultivated new hobbies during his final imprisonment like penning poems and snacking on American cookies.The prisoner that the guards called Vic (short for Very Important Criminal) also cultivated a garden, caring for a few shrubs and bushes (was one called George?).

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Hunky Dubai Crown Prince Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is no stranger to daredevil sports. He took a dip in the Indian Ocean with a 64-year-old pachyderm named Rajan! The first Arab royal to swim with an elephant captioned his Instagram snaps,”Who would have guessed that an elephant can dive using it’s trunk as a snorkel?”
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Image 10 of 10:  10 / 10Hunky Dubai Crown Prince Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is no stranger to daredevil sports. He took a dip in the Indian Ocean with a 64-year-old pachyderm named Rajan! The first Arab royal to swim with an elephant captioned his Instagram snaps,”Who would have guessed that an elephant can dive using it’s trunk as a snorkel?”

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1

Jordan’s King Abdullah loves fast cars & motorcycles, he’s dove from planes & under the sea, but these hobbies are taboo since he assumed the throne. He’s also an avid football fan (it helps that his brother Prince Ali heads up the Jordan Football Association!) and sci-fi aficionado, once famously appearing as an extra on Star Trek!

Image 1 of 10Jordan’s King Abdullah loves fast cars & motorcycles, he’s dove from planes & under the sea, but these hobbies are taboo since he assumed the throne. He’s also an avid football fan (it helps that his brother Prince Ali heads up the Jordan Football Association!) and sci-fi aficionado, once famously appearing as an extra on Star Trek!

2

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked Egyptians to cycle and walk more (to help his cash-strapped government that spends billions of dollars a year on fuel subsidies), then hopped on his bike as part of a Cairo cycling marathon. But his choice of wheels (a $4,300 USD Peugeot) took the air out of his tires when pleading for national austerity.

Image 2 of 10President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked Egyptians to cycle and walk more (to help his cash-strapped government that spends billions of dollars a year on fuel subsidies), then hopped on his bike as part of a Cairo cycling marathon. But his choice of wheels (a $4,300 USD Peugeot) took the air out of his tires when pleading for national austerity.

3

Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad is known in his entourage for his dry sense of humor, and hobbies that include cycling, keeping up with technology trends, and photography. That last one could prove handy in documenting his destruction of his people and their country. A PlayStation® hobby is also rumored.

Image 3 of 10Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad is known in his entourage for his dry sense of humor, and hobbies that include cycling, keeping up with technology trends, and photography. That last one could prove handy in documenting his destruction of his people and their country. A PlayStation® hobby is also rumored.

4

Saudi’s king is a bookworm with a private library holding 20,000 volumes! Assuming the throne 2 months ago has cut into his reading time, so he may be lending his books out. Hope he puts his full name on the bookplate - Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud - so they can be returned.

Image 4 of 10Saudi’s king is a bookworm with a private library holding 20,000 volumes! Assuming the throne 2 months ago has cut into his reading time, so he may be lending his books out. Hope he puts his full name on the bookplate - Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud - so they can be returned.

5

Rock the Casbah! Wasn’t long ago that heavy metal music would get you jailed in Morocco, but don’t tell that to the head-bangers dancing wildly at Casablanca's Tremplin Festival! The alternative music scene in the country is alive and kicking; it has even received a grant from King Mohammed VI, himself a fan! He also loves a good hunt.

Image 5 of 10Rock the Casbah! Wasn’t long ago that heavy metal music would get you jailed in Morocco, but don’t tell that to the head-bangers dancing wildly at Casablanca's Tremplin Festival! The alternative music scene in the country is alive and kicking; it has even received a grant from King Mohammed VI, himself a fan! He also loves a good hunt.

6

Bedouin bedtime tales? Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was one of the world’s longest-serving leaders whose notoriously odd speeches didn't jibe with his reported love of Bedouin poetry. The colonel, who often slept in a Bedouin tent protected by dozens of female bodyguards, preferred that others read him the poems.

Image 6 of 10Bedouin bedtime tales? Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was one of the world’s longest-serving leaders whose notoriously odd speeches didn't jibe with his reported love of Bedouin poetry. The colonel, who often slept in a Bedouin tent protected by dozens of female bodyguards, preferred that others read him the poems.

7

The cultured and sophisticated King Abdullah the First of Jordan was a highly popular character among Arabs and often credited with creating the 20th century Arab Revolt. This highly intelligent, worldly-wise warrior was a superb chess player. What better game to prepare for international battle?

Image 7 of 10The cultured and sophisticated King Abdullah the First of Jordan was a highly popular character among Arabs and often credited with creating the 20th century Arab Revolt. This highly intelligent, worldly-wise warrior was a superb chess player. What better game to prepare for international battle?

8

Egyptian King Farouq amassed one of the most famous coin collections in history including two 1913 Liberty Head nickels and an extremely rare American Gold Minted 1933 Double Eagle. He and his son Fouad were both so obsessed with collecting stamps, they funded a national stamp-collecting agency!

Image 8 of 10Egyptian King Farouq amassed one of the most famous coin collections in history including two 1913 Liberty Head nickels and an extremely rare American Gold Minted 1933 Double Eagle. He and his son Fouad were both so obsessed with collecting stamps, they funded a national stamp-collecting agency!

9

Iraq prez Saddam Hussein had a lifelong passion for rare cars, but he cultivated new hobbies during his final imprisonment like penning poems and snacking on American cookies.The prisoner that the guards called Vic (short for Very Important Criminal) also cultivated a garden, caring for a few shrubs and bushes (was one called George?).

Image 9 of 10Iraq prez Saddam Hussein had a lifelong passion for rare cars, but he cultivated new hobbies during his final imprisonment like penning poems and snacking on American cookies.The prisoner that the guards called Vic (short for Very Important Criminal) also cultivated a garden, caring for a few shrubs and bushes (was one called George?).

10

Hunky Dubai Crown Prince Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is no stranger to daredevil sports. He took a dip in the Indian Ocean with a 64-year-old pachyderm named Rajan! The first Arab royal to swim with an elephant captioned his Instagram snaps,”Who would have guessed that an elephant can dive using it’s trunk as a snorkel?”

Image 10 of 10Hunky Dubai Crown Prince Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is no stranger to daredevil sports. He took a dip in the Indian Ocean with a 64-year-old pachyderm named Rajan! The first Arab royal to swim with an elephant captioned his Instagram snaps,”Who would have guessed that an elephant can dive using it’s trunk as a snorkel?”

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Most Gulf rulers gravitate to the gentlemanly pursuits of hunting, horsemanship, falconry and yachting. But some others prefer more unusual pastimes. Take a peek into the quirkier side and hidden talents of our Arab leaders!

 

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