Around my senior year in college, I remember, as I was discussing my post-graduation plans with my father, I mentioned that I was getting more and more serious about moving back to the Middle East after graduation. He balked at the idea, though (at least ostensibly) not for the obvious reasons. Rather than citing more common concerns of safety and the like, he instead pointed to my lack of facial hair.
“You’ll never be able to pull it off,” he said, half-joking (but still, half-serious). “You’ll never be able to get any respect in that part of the world without a mustache.”
While its faded from ubiquity it once enjoyed among western elites, the mustache largely retains the prominence its long enjoyed in the Arab World. Brandished by men ranging from Gulf royals and Baathist autocrats to civil servants and cab drivers, the mustache is hard to avoid in the region.