clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yes, Lindsay Lohan really posted an Instagram mourning Saudi King Abdullah

You are reading this correctly: American movie star and personal trainwreck Lindsay Lohan posted an Instagram mourning the death of 90-year-old Saudi Arabian monarch King Abdullah. And she used Arabic, and her Arabic is reportedly solid but not really appropriate to the occasion. It's not an expected turn of events, but the seeming incongruity here is more telling than you might think.

Inshallah and Wallahi are common Arabic expressions meaning "God willing" and "I swear it to God."

It turns out that Lindsday Lohan was quite close with a well-connected member of a wealthy Saudi family: Mohammed al-Turki.

If that surprises you, it shouldn't. Saudi Arabia is in many ways one of the world's most regressive and backwards countries, forcing its citizens to abide by ultra-conservative restrictions that treat women as barely human and stifling dissent with threat of punishments as barbaric as public lashings and beheadings. However, individual members of prominent, wealthy families are often quite Westernized and liberal. Mohammed al-Turki uses his family's unimaginable wealth to buy himself a career as a Hollywood producer, where he met Lohan. Other members drive race cars, or generally live in luxury in the West.

King Abdullah, who was 90, is not known to have dated any Hollywood starlets, and is probably not as liberal as someone like al-Turki, but he is more personally liberal than the system he presides over. Some view the Saudi royals sympathetically through the lens of this contradiction, seeing them as trapped between their own reformist impulses and an ultra-conservative clerical class that demands 7th-century-style rule and has threatened to cause instability in the past. But most analysts see the Saudi royals as self-serving hypocrites.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.