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Heads of state, stateless

Refugees
Agenda

What if the world’s most powerful political leaders were forced to flee war or persecution, making a perilous journey to start a life in a new country? This situation is depicted by Syrian artist Abdalla Al Omari in ‘The Vulnerability Series’.

The artist, who was born in Damascus, has painted a range of world leaders – all depicted as displaced or disenfranchised people in a moment of despair.

Arresting images portray the likes of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as a refugee, partially submerged in the Mediterranean Sea.

‘Even I felt sorry for [my version of] Assad,’ said Omari, ‘I have convinced myself [that vulnerability] is the strongest weapon humankind possesses. It is far more powerful than the trail of power games, bomb craters and bullet holes in our collective memories. Vulnerability is a gift we should all celebrate.’

Other portraits in the series include North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a small, scared child holding a missile behind his back and a dishevelled looking President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, begging for money on the street.

New Internationalist issue 506 magazine cover This article is from the October 2017 issue of New Internationalist.
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