Sunday, July 1, 2007

The many faces of King Abdullah


I see King Abdullah. Many places, really. In the back windows of ambulances, amidst the din of boisterous falafel stands, beside family photos atop the mantle in stone-floored living rooms.

The meaning of this widespread iconography is complex. Some people display his picture out of love, others out of respect, some out of habit, still others to fit in. But what is absolutely certain from these images is that in addition to the whole head of state thing, Abdullah is a man of many interests. His website attests to this:

"He is a qualified frogman, pilot and a free-fall parachutist. His other interests include automobile racing, water sports, scuba diving and collecting ancient weapons and armaments."

Now, I have no idea what a frogman is (though I did turn up this helpful primer on defending against frogmen. You can thank me when you successfully thwart an amphibious assault on your military base or beach house) and try as I might, I could not find any pictures of Abdullah scuba diving, wielding ancient weapons and armaments, or scuba diving while wielding ancient weapons and armaments.

But here are a few of my favorites:

Family man King Abdullah with Queen Rania, Princess Salma, Princess Iman, and Prince Hussein. This portrait is from Hardee's.

Urban camo King Abdullah.

Soccer star King Abdullah.

Senior yearbook picture King Abdullah...that's a lie. (the Arabic text reads "We are all Jordan")

Actually, I think this selection is more believable as senior yearbook picture King Abdullah. With the cloud background, large tie knot, and happy-but-not-too-happy smile, sometimes I think I'm looking at the Deerfield Academy Class of 1980 yearbook, right next to Thad and Thatcher, complete with a Pink Floyd quote beside it.

University graduate King Abdullah.

Desert Patrol King Abdullah from the City Hall of Salt.

Steroid King Abdullah...not really.

Romantic comedy King Abdullah. (autographed copy)

Desert Patrol King Abdullah discussing strategy with Desert Patrol Prince Hussein.
(I think the camera caught him by surprise on this one) King Abdullah.
Star Trek King Abdullah. Apparently the King is a big Trekkie and he appeared as an extra back in the day. Ask Tar Heel Travelers' very own resident expert for more details.
And my personal favorite: environmental steward King Abdullah. Posted on an entire wall of the Ministry of Agriculture, this features Abdullah, in full military regalia, watering a sapling.
I would have preferred to see him doing this in the Star Trek outfit, but hey, I'm not the king.