Lionel Messi models Gulf headdress for Saudi brand

Football star appears in promotional video for Sayyar, known for its luxury shemaghs or scarfs

The footballer is also a tourism ambassador for Saudi Arabia. Photo: @sayyargcc / Instagram
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Lionel Messi is now the face of Sayyar, a men's fashion brand in Saudi Arabia.

The sports star, who's also the kingdom's tourism ambassador, appears in a video posted by the company on its social media platforms. In the short clip, Messi is in full Gulf attire, with a traditional white thobe and red-and-white shemagh, or scarf, on his head.

He poses for the camera, in between shots of him fixing the headdress. It ends with him holding an orange box featuring the name of the brand.

“Wear a 'Signature R' shemagh, the same as Goat #MessiElegeace,” the caption reads. Goat is an acronym for Greatest Of All Time, which was first used to describe boxer Muhammad Ali.

The company sells more than a dozen types of shemagh, also called ghutrah or keffiyeh depending on the area of the Middle East it is from. The traditional headdress, fashioned from a scarf, is worn by men in the region. Colours vary, but the most famous are red and white or black and white. A piece costs around $81 at Sayyar.

Aside from the scarves, the company also sells all sorts of undergarments, including a vest collection, as well as a perfume line.

In previous Saudi advertisements, Messi is seen highlighting the kingdom's vast tourism offerings. A video released in January shows the football star playing ball and figuratively breaking stereotypes about the Gulf country, which is normally described as having a “closed culture” or a place where “not much is happening”.

This is part of the Saudi government's major push to attract more tourists and diversify its economy by investing in tourism, tapping international celebrities such as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Updated: March 14, 2024, 10:51 AM