Note: Except for the hot Arab writers I talk about, there is nothing literary about this post.
When I initially heard about Yes
, the Sally Potter movie in iambic pentameter about an Irish-American woman who has an affair with a Lebanese man, I was angry: it seems suddenly in vogue to make art
that objectifies Arab men. Then my friend Z calmed me down when she pointed out that the trend makes Arab men taboo and therefore desired. "It'll be like black men! They'll be so hot! Don't worry!" She's right.
So, in anticipation of the soon-to-be cultural craze, I present to you a baker's dozen of sexy Arab men. I hope you enjoy.
Amr Diab is an obvious choice: the
pop star of the Middle East, Diab has been performing his catchy songs since the mid-80s. I remember dancing to "Mayyaal" when I was 7, and to "Habibi" last year at a club; he's been shaking my booty for 20 years. He's 40, fit, and fly. Check the fucking dimple. Oh, yeah.
Abdel Halim: He's been dead a while, which brings me to a point that illustrates beautifully how sexy this guy was: women threw themselves off balconies when they found out he'd died. Some say it's because they were emotional, I say it's because their fantasies of fucking him were dashed forever and the prospect of living without the possibility of fucking Ab Halim was too great to bear. He's best-known in the west because of Jay Z's sample of "Khosaara" on Big Pimpin'. Balconies
, people. Fly.
Edward Said: I almost considered throwing myself off something when I found out Said died. I fantasized the whole time I was writing my novel that he'd one day read it. Now he won't, and I'll never get to meet him, see that sexy jaw-line in real life. Goddamn, he was hot. He's like 70 in this picture. Sexiest 70 year old man I've ever seen.
Claude Chalhoub: Dude, he's a Lebanese guy who composes and performs his own pieces... on violin. It's self-explanatory, no? Fucker is fly.
Dave Attell: Let me count the ways. Alcoholic? Check. Fucking hilarious? Check. Visited a prostitute on film? Check. Starred in the cinematic masterpiece Pootie Tang? Check. Bald? Check. Has given me
insomnia over how Luscious and Crazy Hot he is? Check.
Ghassan Kanafani: The voice of the Palestinian struggle in the 60s, Kanafani wrote Men in the Sun
, All That's Left To You
, and amazing short stories that remind me of Chekov, if Chekov grew up in a refugee camp. He was killed by a car bomb planted by Israeli agents on July 8, 1972. He rocks my world, still. His nose, his high brow, his delicate wrist. Brother was fine
Mohamad Chamas: This is the kid from West Beirut
, which if you haven't seen, you must. (Before anyone accuses me of being a dirty old woman, he's 21 now. He is my version of the Ron crush-- most women over 18 think the kid who plays Ron in the Harry Potter movies is hot, which will forever remain a mystery to me). Chamas was a street thug and living in a refugee camp orphanage when he was scooped up to play a part in this film. He's hilarious, naughty and rebellious, and exudes a spirit so immense, it's beautiful. Ever since I read a digested version of Oliver Twist in Arabic translation as a 10 year old, I've loved me some hot orphan thugs.
Mahmoud Darwish: Arab poets wear suits when they read, with a tie and everything. But when Darwish rocks the suit, he kills me. Whenever I read his poem, "A Gentle Rain In A Distant Fall," with its imagery of chains and kisses being sent through the mail, I shudder.
Ziad Doueiri: He was Tarantino's cameraman on Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, and almost Jackie Brown, but he split to Lebanon and made West Beirut
instead. He is a consummate filmmaker, and uses music and bicycles in a way that brings the viewer to ecstatic highs. I love that he had the cojones to make a movie about coming of age during war, and that he did it so beautifully. And dude, just look at him. So. Fucking. Gorgeous.
Ahmad Zaki: The first black Egyptian to star front and center in Egyptian movies, Zaki does something in each one of his performances that no other actor can do: he makes me fall for him, then breaks my heart. Something about his presence and spirit is so sexy, commanding, and magnificent; it had to be for him to pull off roles as both Nasser and Sadat. Let's just say I would have liked to be an intern on both of his president films.
Zeid from Soap Kills: Soap Kills
is the only band from the Middle East that sounds the way it sounds, which says a lot
about the musicians in it, since the Middle East has a homogenous music scene (when I say this, I mean there's only about a dozen types of music; and almost no electronica). The brother in a brother-sister team, Zeid produces some of the phatest beats and on "Kazdoura," the building drums and organs are so sultry they should come with a towel. So: Daring+Inventive+sexy hair and brows=fucking hot.
Tony Shalhoub: Check the huge, vertical dimple on that grill. And he looks super-hot with a beard, which is weird, because the beard hides the dimple. Monk or no monk, I'd still totally try to rape him if I ever saw him.
Rachid Taha: My absolute favorite. His rendition of Yarayeh
made me cry, then want to hop on a plane and stalk the Paris streets looking for this man. His throaty, soulful voice sinks into my veins. I love Diwan
; I love its generous, respectful homage to older Arab singers, classical Arabic music, traditional folk songs and dance numbers. So: hot voice, beautiful lips, gorgeous hair that looks like bunches of black grapes, reverence for history= the sexiest Arab man alive. (Also, click on the photo for yet another hot one.)
UPDATE: Leila sends in wondering whether Omar Sharif should count. I say:
I went through a time period (ages 15-17) when I was in love with Doctor Zhivago. Not Boris Pasternak, not Omar Sherif, but Yuri Anderyevich Zhivago. I love the sensitivity, the sweetness, the emotional acuity Sharif brought to the role in the David Lean adaptation. No other man, Arab or not, has looked less sleazy cheating on his wife on celluloid. I used to cry and cry when I'd watch the ending: it's too bad those three couldn't just threesome it. On the DVD, it shows how the make-up people waxed Sharif's hairy forehead and added a wispy hairpiece so he would look more "poet-like." You can read a hilarious New Yorker piece about Sharif here
Have a sexy arab man you think I should've mentioned? Email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.