Mo Salah criticized over GQ photoshoot

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Mohamed Salah on the cover of GQ Middle East with former Victoria’s Secret Angel, Alessandra Ambrosio. (Photo credit: GQ)
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Salah on the cover of GQ Middle East with former Victoria’s Secret Angel, Alessandra Ambrosio. (Photo credit: GQ)
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Salah on the cover of GQ Middle East with former Victoria’s Secret Angel, Alessandra Ambrosio. (Photo credit: GQ)
Updated 18 October 2019

Mo Salah criticized over GQ photoshoot

  • Most comments, especially in Egypt, focused on Salah being embraced by the model despite being a married Muslim man brought up in a conservative society
  • The controversy had people so distracted they didn’t — or wouldn’t — congratulate the Liverpool star on receiving GQ’s Man of the Year award for 2019

CAIRO: Egyptian footballer and Liverpool striker Mo Salah’s latest cover shoot has caused controversy, with people criticizing him for being embraced by a model and highlighting double standards in society.
Salah can be seen on the cover of GQ Middle East with former Victoria’s Secret Angel, Alessandra Ambrosio.
One version shows them standing back to back while the second, and the cause of the controversy, has Ambrosio embracing him from behind.
There is also a behind the scenes video where the stars can be seen laughing together.
Most comments, especially in Egypt, focused on Salah being embraced by the model despite being a married Muslim man brought up in a conservative society.


“Imagine if a married Muslim woman did this,” one Twitter user commented.
The controversy had people so distracted they didn’t — or wouldn’t — congratulate the Liverpool star on receiving GQ’s Man of the Year award for 2019.
And, after sharing the two covers on his social media accounts, Salah was hit with waves of angry fans shaming him for the pictures and questioning his morality.
“Shame on you as a Muslim,” one Instagram user commented.
Many of the comments were jokes regarding Salah’s marital life ending or being on the rocks. The footballer, who has tens of millions of fans around the world, has yet to address the backlash.


People were quick to compare Salah’s pictures to those of female Egyptian celebrities who have faced tougher responses to behavior considered immoral. Actress Rania Youssef risked a five-year jail sentence after wearing a dress to a red carpet event that revealed her legs and upper thighs.
Salah, 27, is no stranger to posting pictures of his life and his Instagram account is brimming with candid snaps. But the GQ scandal reveals his difficult balancing act of being Egyptian, Muslim and a global star with a huge following outside the Arab world.


Those defending the forward wondered why he was being criticized, arguing that he was no longer a local Egyptian celebrity but an international A-lister and that his photoshoot with Ambrosio was justified. 
It is not the first time the Egyptian star has been caught up in controversy, however. 
Last month he clashed with Egypt’s football federation after it was revealed the organization had not voted in FIFA awards in which Salah was a candidate. He also had a row last year with the federation over his image rights.
He made headlines for smiling and posing with Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov as well as drawing fire for defending teammate Amr Warda, who was booted out of Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations squad for the alleged sexual harassment of several women online.
It was reported that Salah’s intervention helped sway the Eygptian Football Association to reinstate Warda to the squad.

 


Camel herding in Western Sahara a passion with pedigree

Updated 21 November 2019

Camel herding in Western Sahara a passion with pedigree

  • In the Western Sahara, a local adage holds that he who has no camel, has nothing
  • "Camels can endure everything: sun, wind, sand and lack of water, and if they could talk, you’d easily hear how intelligent they are,” says herder

DAKHLA, Western Sahara: In the Oued Eddahab desert in Western Sahara, Habiboullah Dlimi raises dairy and racing camels just like his ancestors used to — but with a little help from modern technology.
His animals roam free in the desert and are milked as camels always have been, by hand, at dawn and dusk.
When camels “feed on wild plants and walk all day, the milk is much better,” said the 59-year-old herder, rhapsodizing about the benefits of the nutrient-rich drink, known as the “source of life” for nomads.
But Dlimi no longer lives with his flock.
He lives in town with his family. His camels are watched over by hired herders and Dlimi follows GPS coordinates across the desert in a 4X4 vehicle to reach them.
He is reticent when asked about the size of his herd. “That would bring bad luck,” he said.
He prefers to speak of the gentleness and friendliness of the animals he knows like his own children.
“Camels can endure everything: sun, wind, sand and lack of water, and if they could talk, you’d easily hear how intelligent they are,” he said.

A camel is silhouetted against the sunset in the desert near Dakhla in Morocco-administered Western Sahara, on Oct. 13, 2019. (AFP / FADEL SENNA)


"The desert knows me"
Dlimi comes from a long line of desert dwellers from the Ouled Dlimi tribe.
As tradition dictates, he lists his ancestors going back five generations when introducing himself.
“I know the desert and the desert knows me,” he said.
Like elsewhere, the nomads of Western Sahara are settling, following a shift from rural to urban living.
“Young people prefer to stay in town,” Dlimi said, and herders now mostly come from neighboring Mauritania, whose desert north is traversed by caravans of up to a thousand camels.
Even they “often demand to work in areas covered by (mobile phone) network signal,” he added.
The population of the nearby town of Dakhla has tripled to 100,000 in 20 years, with growth driven by fishing, tourism and greenhouse farming encouraged by Morocco.
In this part of Western Sahara, development projects depend entirely on Rabat.
Morocco has controlled 80 percent of the former Spanish colony since the 1970s and wants to maintain it as an autonomous territory under its sovereignty.
The Polisario Front movement fought a war for independence from 1975 to 1991 and wants a referendum in which the people of Western Sahara choose between independence and integration with Morocco.
The United Nations has been trying to negotiate a political compromise for decades.
Like many in his tribe, Dlimi has family members on the other side of the Western Sahara Wall separating the Moroccan controlled areas from the Polisario controlled areas.
He favors loyalty to Morocco while others back independence, he said.
Tribal affiliation trumps politics, though.
“Tribes are tribes, it’s a social organization,” he said. “There are very strong links between us.”
To “preserve the past for the future,” Dlimi started a cultural association to conserve traditions from a time when there were no borders and “families followed the herds and the clouds.”

A camel herder guides his flock in the desert near Dakhla in Morocco-administered Western Sahara on Oct. 13, 2019. (AFP / FADEL SENNA)


The irony
While Dlimi loves the desert, he does have one complaint: “The camel dairy industry is valued everywhere in the world except here.”
Camel milk is trendy with health-conscious consumers and the lean meat is excellent, Dlimi claims.
Today though, it is small livestock farming that is the main agricultural focus, in response to what non-nomadic Moroccans tend to eat.
The 266,000 square kilometers (106,400 square miles) of Western Sahara under Moroccan control hosts some 6,000 herders, 105,000 camels, and 560,000 sheep and goats, according to figures from Rabat.
In other arid countries, including Saudi Arabia, intensive farming of camels has taken off.
But, while Moroccan authorities have undertaken several studies into developing Western Sahara’s camel industry, these have not so far been acted upon.
Regardless, a local adage holds that he who has no camel, has nothing.
“Some say that Saharans are crazy because when they have money they spend it on four feet,” Dlimi jokes.
For him, 20,000 dirhams ($2,000) spent on a camel is a safe investment.
But it is also a consuming passion.
His Facebook page and WhatsApp messages are filled with talk of camel husbandry techniques, research and racing.
Racing “is a pleasure and it pays,” Dlimi said.
Since the United Arab Emirates funded construction of a camel racing track at Tantan, 900 kilometers (560 miles) to the north, racing animals have appreciated in value and can sell for up to 120,000 dirhams, according to Dlimi.
To train his racing camels, Dlimi chases the young animals across the desert in his 4X4.
The technique has made him an eight-time champion in national competitions, he said.
But camels can be stubborn, Dlimi stressed, telling of how he once sold his best champion for a “very good price,” but the animal refused to race once it had changed hands.