Over fifty years ago, the Beatles took the world by storm. The British band reached an unmatched level of success in their home country, the United States, Asia, and Australia. Crowds of admiring - sometimes even hysterical - fans followed them anywhere they went, an unprecedented phenomenon known as “Beatlemania.”
Arab youngsters weren't immune to this. From hairstyles to invading an airport runway, here's how the 'Fab Four' fever hit the Arab world.
The band was given an Arabized name
"Those Khanafes are in style!"
The Beatles were better known as "Al Khanafes" (الخنافس) in the Arab world, a literal translation of the band's name.
The band made a refueling stop in Beirut
On June 7, 1964, The Beatles boarded a very long flight to Hong Kong, with scheduled refueling stops in Zurich, Beirut, Karachi, Calcutta, and Bangkok. At each airport, flocks of screaming fans awaited in hopes of meeting the band, even though they rarely left the plane for more than an hour.
In Beirut, security couldn’t hold back the hundreds of fans that invaded the runway. Local authorities had to use firefighting foam.
"The Beatles landed in Beirut Airport as a stop over on their world tour, causing such a commotion that Beirut was never the same afterwards. There were mob scenes and screaming girls. From then on, nearly every kid in town picked up a guitar or grabbed a microphone or a pair of sticks, and bands were being formed all over the place." - Denny Ryder, Ali Omar in "Opening Pandora's Box".
The "Khanafes" haircut
The band members hair was definitely a striking feature, leading many men in the Arab world to grow out theirs into what was then called the "Khanafes haircut".
But, it wasn't without controversy.
In Jordan, campaigns were launched against the trend
Toward the late 60s and early 70s, young men sporting longer hair were eventually seen as a social and cultural problem. In Jordan, the General Security even launched campaigns against the "foreign haircut," and police stations were authorized to cut the long hair of "Khanafes" men.
The campaign was short lived. In some universities, it stopped after only one week.
Authorities in Kuwait also took action against the hair trend
The "Charleston pants"
Another Beatles-inspired fashion trend was the "Charleston pants," i.e. trousers that become wider from the knees downward, forming a bell-like shape.
We think they're awesome though. Can we have 'em back?