If I Were A Rich Man…

funny face_origA successful man makes more money than his wife can spend.

The expression, “Behind every great man, stands a great woman” is common, but have you heard of Jim Carey’s “Behind every great man, is a woman rolling her eyes”?

Quotes like these have spawned countless mother-in-law and nagging-housewife jokes, like “Behind every successful man, is the proud wife and a surprised mother-in-law,” or Groucho Marx’s “Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.”

Girls would like the expression of the actress, Lana Turner who said, “A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.”

Most great women are overshadowed by their husbands, like the despots described below. The wives are successful in their own right but have decided to put aside their aspirations and concentrate on their husbands careers.

1 Nefertiti, the Pharoah’s equal

Nefertiti, meaning “the beauty has come” was the wife of Akhenaten, an Egyptian Pharoah. They were responsible for a religious revolution, in which they worshiped only one god, Aten, or the sun disc. Nefertiti was accorded many titles, including “Lady of Grace” and “Lady of all Women”. Images depict her wearing the Pharoah’s crown or fighting in battles, and she continued to rule after the death of her husband. Scholars say that her influence and power was the equal of the Pharoah.

Farah Diba

2 Farah Diba’s loyalty

Empress Farah Diba was the second wife of Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. She turned a blind eye to his philandering and bore him the heir that his first wife was unable to provide. They fled, from the Islamic revolution, in 1979. In an interview with The Economist, in 2012, she claimed that the Shah had not spirited billions of USDs abroad, and that the family fortune was merely US$50 million. She maintains that the Shah was a devoted servant of the Iranian people, and denies that he was a corrupt tyrant, responsible for numerous human rights abuses.

3 The stay-at-home Asma al-Bassad

Married to Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, English born Asma was an investment banker at JP Morgan, but after her marriage, she was criticised for her silence over the Syrian uprising, and the orchestrated publicity accorded to her supposed refugee work. Her extravagant shopping trips compelled the European Union to freeze her assets and impose a travel ban on her, and Assad’s close family members. 

4 Leila Abidine Ben Ali; from moderate Tunisia, to austere Saudi Arabia

Former First Lady of Tunisia, (FLOT), Leila, now lives in exile in Saudi Arabia with her husband. She enjoyed 23 years of high living, before her husband was toppled, in the early days of the Arab Spring. After they fled, journalists found 40 luxury cars, including a Lamborghini Gallardo LP 460, a Bentley Continental, an armoured Cadillac and a Maybach, thousands of pieces of jewellery, works of art and clothing, left in a palace which had vaulted ceilings, two antique cannons and chandeliers in every room.

5 Your pick of other dictator’s wives

It is not possible to mention the wives of every dictator, because there are too many. There is Imelda Marcos and her penchant for shoes. Zineb Yahya Jammeh, the First Lady of Gambia, (FLOG), has been described as a “gold digger”, a “hustler” and a “devil who enjoys seeing Gambians suffer”.

The Business Insider has defined a “dictator” as a near-absolute ruler, known for human rights abuses, restrictions on freedom of the press, and oppression of the opposition.

The wives may not share their husbands calling, but they excel at shopping extravagantly, photocalls and expensive collections of shoes and jewellery. Malaysians are fortunate to be spared these tyrants and their wives.

– First published 9 August at

Photo credits to AntDaily
Rebuilding Malaysia

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