May 15, 2018

Asian Muscle #2: The Middle East

When I was a kid, National Geographic published a map of "Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East."  It was on my bedroom wall for years -- hearing nothing on tv except sheiks with white robes and camels, I was fascinated by the many ethnic groups, religions, and languages between Pakistan to Morocco, the Baluchi, the Zoroastrians, the Copts, the Berbers, and the Druze.

Searching for beefcake in the Middle East, heading west from Iran, then south:

Iran.  Ancient Persia, site of the fabled empires of the Seleucids, Parthians, and Sassanids, not to mention the golden age of Sh'ia Islam, where poets openly discussed their homoerotic affairs.  No extremely homophobic.  But with bodybuilders.

Persian, also called Farsi, is an Indo-Iranian language, similar to Hindi, but written in the Arabic alphabet.

Turkey. Part of the Graeco-Roman world, then the Ottoman Empire that extended across Eurasia, through the Balkans, and threatened Vienna.  The Turkic languages form their own family, with no grammatical connection to Arabic or the Indo-European languages.

I have a big sausage
Yatağım bekliyor

Jn 2017, Ismail Balaban won the 656th annual Kirkpinar, the Turkish oil wrestling competition.  Over 2,000 wrestlers competed.

Iraq.  Ancient Sumer, the oldest civilization in the world, dating back to at least 4,000 BC, with the world's first writing system.  The Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians.  Ur of the Chaldees.  The Code of Hammurabi.  More recently, devastating war, hundreds of terrorist attacks, and the incursions of ISIS.

There's still time for wrestling, boxing, swimming, and bodybuilding.

Syria.  More fabled lands from antiquity.  The Phoenicians.  The Assyrian Empire.  Sargon the Great.  Damascus.  And today, more devastation.  Over half of the 22 million Syrians have lost their homes, and about 6 million have fled the country.  Most have sought refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Sweden.  16,000 have resettled in the United States.

Syrian refugee Rami Anis, who now lives in Belgium, competed on the Refugee Olympic Team at the 2016 Olympics.

More after the break.

Israel.  Dani Kaganovich of Beersheba won the Junior Mr. Universe title three times in a row (2007, 2008, 2009), and in 2015 won Mr. Universe.

Lebanon.  Mostly recovered from its devastating civil war, Beirut is urbane, sophisticated, and relatively gay-friendly.

Beirut swimming champions.

Jordan.  The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan gained independence from the British in 1946, and changed its name to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949.  The Hashemites are the ruling family.

Khadir Baqlah is a Jordanian swimmer who competed in the 2016 Olympics.

The Arabian Peninsula:  Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen.  Conservative, homophobic kingdoms that have become extremely wealthy during the last 70 years due to their enormous oil reserves, but are still conservative and homophobic, as in death penalty for gays.  You're probably not going to be visiting.  But you can still look.

Saudi bodybuilder Faisal Roomi.

Kuwaiti bodybuilder Ahmed Askar.

Issa al-Hasni, Mr. Oman.

1 comment:

  1. It's always difficult for me to pronounce Turkish. The Americanist phonetic notation has ruined the g-hacek for me.

    It should be noted that the Kurdish independence fighters are generally pro-gay. But, right now, Arab hegemony is the Washington consensus.

    Saudi Arabia, honestly, the Orange Devil's supporters always reminded me of Saudi Arabia. People forget that the obscenely wealthy still want for a man who was both very wealthy and very obscene, because it goes against the narrative.


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