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Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 05, 2013
Beauty, we know, lies in the eyes of the beholder. But if the beholder happens to be the Saudi Arabian government, this can have rather unexpected consequences. The kingdom has deported three men who were attending the annual Jenadrivah Heritage & Cultural Festival in Riyadh for being, wait for it, too handsome. The fear in the notoriously gender equality-averse country is that these good looks could drive women to distraction.

Thanks to this peculiar turn of events, at least one of the deported, Omar Borkan Al Gala, seems to have become an international sensation. Whoever thought that good looks are something to be frightened of? In which case, we have to assume that all the men who are permitted to walk on Saudi soil are not exactly top drawer in the looks department. Or at least they are not good looking enough to make women fall into swoon. We in India can pride ourselves on being a little more evolved, just a little though. While we have not resorted to banishing people for being too pretty or handsome, we have our own version of Saudi Arabia's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices, which has tried with great vigour to ensure that men and women do not interact.

To this end, we had the Sri Ram Sene in Karnataka that took great offence to the sight of women in bars and in the company of men. Then we have our doughty Shiv Sena which routinely whips around on Valentine's Day to vandalise shops selling cards and balloons. What the Saudi moral police has done by its stamp of disapproval is to ensure that those chased out will be sought after now. Well, that's quite a good way to get noticed. Maybe the Saudis should evolve a prototype of the kind of visage one must possess to gain entry and stay on in the kingdom. They could define the specifications which could be checked at the entry points. If you are found to be something of a looker, you could be turned away immediately. That way the Saudis won't lose face even if it means a slap in the face of beauty.