Someone I Once Met: the Binladens

I’m not talking ‘second cousin twice removed’ here. I’m talking Osama Binladen’s brother and his family. But how would I come across them of all people? On my boat of course. People from all walks of life, provided they can afford it, enjoy a little pampering on a luxury yacht. Why should the Binladens be any different?

I think it important to point out from the start that these six people were by far our most enjoyable guests this season. Not only because they were nice but also they were actually enjoying themselves and actually appreciated where they were and what they were doing (this can’t be said for most guests who may as well be in their living rooms playing on their iPads). Intelligent, grateful, respectful, highly educated, kind hearted and fun-loving are a few descriptive words I’d use for the Binladen family.

If I learnt anything during their short stay on board it would be the power of prejudice. I’m sure they do this all the time but they booked their trip and signed the contract under a different name. 100 per cent, I’m sure, because of the reactions they get from carrying ‘that’ name. For the first part of their trip they were just a family from Saudi Arabia, and a nice one at that. Each of their four children were polite and well spoken.

Their youngest boy, Saad, was always awake before everyone else. So him and I would sit at the table and draw together. At the end I signed my picture with my name and he did the same. And then he said, “You know, my whole name isn’t Saad. It’s Saad Mohammed Mohammed Binladen.” If he was any older than six he would have detected the intrigue written all over my face. But I left it at that until my hearing was finally proved correct when he wrote his name out completely- ending with Binladen.

The outcome of my masterpiece drawn with Saad. He didn't completely approve of my drawing so he would add things, like the monkey and the snakes.

The outcome of my masterpiece drawn with Saad. He didn’t completely approve of my drawing so he would add things, like the monkey and the snakes.

Osama Binladen has 27 brothers and sisters. This isn’t so many if you consider that his father had 22 wives. Wikipedia conveniently has a list of his siblings, and on it was the name and age of a brother that matched the guest on our boat. It’s no secret that Osama Binladen was a bad apple in well respected family. And I for one can vouch for that. The only daughter on board, aided by her highly intelligent mother, gave me a mini lesson in Arabic. They did it in such a way that I was, for the first time, intrigued by it. I have the Binladens to thank for opening my eyes to the a culture I knew so little about.

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