Several news sources reported that 3 men were deported from Saudi Arabia in early April because they were "too handsome."

Now "fashion photographer, actor, and poet" Omar Borkan Al Gala is reported to have been one of the individuals kicked out of the country.

Was he really deported for his good looks?

  • This seems to be the original article (google translated) - translate.google.com/…
    – Ofir
    Apr 25, 2013 at 7:51
  • 1
    There seems to be enough legitimate sources (in both Arabic and English) for it to be true. Apr 26, 2013 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


No he was not.

Berkman Buzz reports (via Islawmix):1

You have most probably heard by now that three Emirati men were allegedly thrown out of a cultural Janadriyah Festival by the Saudi religious police (pl. mutawaeen) for “being too handsome.” Most reports, however, have claimed the three men were actually deported from the Kingdom, itself, for their ‘seductive' lure that was apparently going to send the attending women into an incontrollable hormonal flux [...]

Unfortunately, no one in the English press bothered to actually fact check the story.

As it turns out, three men were not, in fact, deported from Saudi Arabia. Actually, no one was deported from Saudi Arabia and certainly not for being too handsome. And, actually, no one was even kicked out of the heritage and cultural festival except for a member of the religious police for protesting against the presence of a Gulf female singer [...]

There was, indeed, an incident involving Al Gala (and apparently him alone): according to the head of the mutawaeen, Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, Al Gala had made his way into the family section of the event and was dancing inappropriately.2 Several complaints were made against him and he was taken aside by members of the national guard, questioned and that was it. He was not asked to leave the event, let alone the country. It turns out his uncomfortable dancing and not his uncomfortably good looks were the reason for some cause for concern and discomfort at the festival.

  1. http://web.archive.org/web/20150525141759/https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/node/95558
  2. http://web.archive.org/web/20150525142036/http://www.alquds.co.uk/?p=39096
  • The incident that article is talking about is a separate incident that also happened in the Emirati pavilion. May 17, 2013 at 18:15
  • You are right @SystemDown. Updated with more relevant quotes and an source in Arabic.
    – denten
    May 18, 2013 at 16:50
  • 2
    @SystemDown I'm an Arabic speaker and I have seen this in the news with footage of the events, and I confirm denten's answer. Apparently, the news have been seeded by the dude himself as a publicity stunt, as he started showing up on fashion magazine covers after this incident. One more thing, privately owned media are not really censored in Saudi Arabia, you can open any of them online and read dozens of articles against the government, and plenty of liberals' chatter.
    – Ansari
    May 27, 2015 at 11:12

Here's an article (Arabic) from the Saudi edition of Al Hayat newspaper. Here's the relevant part translated:

"Al Hayat" has learned that the officials in the Emirates pavilion in the National Culture and Folklore Festival "Al Janadiriyah" have removed three young men who were participants in folkloric bands, in fear that they might mesmerize the female visitors of the pavilion.

A festival official has explained that Islamic extremists had requested from the pavilion's officials that they remove three young men who were participating in the activities in fear that they might mesmerize the female visitors of the pavilion. He noted that his department had expedited the young men's travel arrangements to Abu Dhabi.

He added: "I don't know which organization these extremists who requested the young men be removed belonged to, but we sent them back home in fear of creating problems in the festival." noting that one of the folklore bands seemed obviously deficient after three of its members exited.

Officials have declined to comment on the issue. Al Hayat is a well respected newspaper in Saudi Arabia, and since the story was not censored that leads me to believe that the story has some truth in it. Although it is clear that the deportation was not done by the Saudi government, but by the Emirati delegation themselves.

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