News / Canada

Too handsome for Saudi Arabia? Vancouver model dishes on reports he was deported

For the past two years, Omar Borkan Al Gala has kept quiet on whether there was any truth to reports that he was deported from Saudi Arabia for being too handsome.

He’s devilishly handsome, but could his good looks be criminal?

For the past two years, Omar Borkan Al Gala, who now lives in Vancouver, has kept quiet on whether there was any truth to reports that he was deported from Saudi Arabia for being too handsome— until now.

Al Gala sat down with Metro for an exclusive interview Thursday, revealing what he says really happened that day that led to him getting kicked out of the kingdom.

 Vancouver model Omar Borkan Al Gala poses in Gastown on Jan. 15, 2015. (Jennifer Gauthier/Metro)

Vancouver model Omar Borkan Al Gala poses in Gastown on Jan. 15, 2015. (Jennifer Gauthier/Metro)

“I kept it as a secret,” he said with a mischievous glint in his eye. “But it’s not a really bad incident, to be honest. It benefited me more than it did me bad.”

Al Gala said he was traveling in Saudi Arabia with a group of friends in April 2013 when they decided to attend a cultural festival in Riyadh.

“We were just looking for something to do,” he said.

Having worked as a model since he was 18, Al Gala said some girls at the festival recognized him and asked for his autograph and a photo.

But when the crowd of female admirers grew, he said authorities intervened.

“The scene was getting bigger, so the religion police didn’t like it,” Al Gala said. “They came and they asked me politely to leave the festival … because it’s not really allowed to mix with girls there.”

The next day, Al Gala said he left the country and returned to Vancouver.

“I was never deported,” he said. “I was asked to leave the festival, not the country.”

 Vancouver model Omar Borkan Al Gala poses in Gastown on Jan. 15, 2015. (Jennifer Gauthier/Metro)

Vancouver model Omar Borkan Al Gala poses in Gastown on Jan. 15, 2015. (Jennifer Gauthier/Metro)

Reports quickly surfaced that three men from the United Arab Emirates had been kicked out of the country due to fears their good looks would lead women astray.

Although he knew the articles weren’t entirely accurate, Al Gala said he decided to stay mum in the hopes it would build his mystique as a model.

He was right.

Within 48 hours, his Facebook page had more than 800,000 likes. Today, he has more than two million.

“I hit the lottery,” he said. “The first day the news was in the Asian world, and the next day it was in Mexico. That’s when we knew it was going viral.”

Soon after, Al Gala said he secured an agent and manager. Together, they consciously decided to spin the story to help further his career.

“We dealt with the whole situation in a really smart way,” he said.

 Vancouver model Omar Borkan Al Gala poses in Gastown on Jan. 15, 2015. (Jennifer Gauthier/Metro)

Vancouver model Omar Borkan Al Gala poses in Gastown on Jan. 15, 2015. (Jennifer Gauthier/Metro)

Today, he said he travels extensively for photo shoots and has secured lucrative modeling contracts, including a deal with Samsung as a product ambassador.

Although he credits the Saudi Arabia incident for kick starting his modeling career, Al Gala said he hopes to one day leave his “too handsome” title behind.

“I don’t like it much,” he said, adding with a laugh: “There’s so many people who are way better looking than me.”