Saudi King Co-Opts Ron Paul Balloon

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Nothing symbolized GOP Congressman Ron Paul's dark horse race for the Republican presidential nomination better than the Ron Paul blimp. Bold, media-magnetizing, and unconventional, the blimp floated the message "Who Is Ron Paul?" across the country, signifying all that was strangely energizing about Paul's campaign.

Now another idiosyncratic political leader has adopted a similar idea. The image of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Saud has been emblazoned on a giant hot air balloon, which will be flown across 52 countries over two years. Via the Center for American Progress' Brian Katulis, The Saudi Gazette's Shahid Ali Khan reports:

A hot air balloon bearing the image of King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, beside the legend “King of Humanitarianism” and the Saudi flag took to the skies above Riyadh on Thursday as it embarked on a two-year journey taking a message of peace to 52 countries across the globe. ...

The initiative for the epic voyage reportedly came from the United Arab Emirates where sources described it as motivated out of "appreciation for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ humanitarian work and his peacemaking role in the international arena" and to mark the 25th anniversary of first National Culture and Heritage Festival in Janadriya.

Sponsored by Emirates Hot Air Balloon Company, the vessel’s first leg will take in Jeddah, Makkah and Madina before venturing out across the skies of virtually every member state of the European Union, Russia, Asian countries such as Pakistan, India, China, Mongolia, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Australia, Africa and North and South America.

No word yet on how this will affect King Abdullah's standing in the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.