Osama bin Laden’s son wants to shake off his last name’s reputation by painting American landscapes

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Omar bin Laden tries to do the opposite of his father and turns to art to express his feelings.

The bin Laden surname has for years been linked to horrors, violence and extremism, however, there is a man who bears not just the surname but the blood of one of America’s worst enemies. and who is trying to end this bloodline. Omar Bin Laden, the fourth eldest son of Osama Bin Laden, wants to bring peace to the world through his art. He is a painter who is inspired by the landscapes of the American West, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

Although he is not a professional painter – he began to explore his artistic side at the start of the pandemic – he has artistic lineage from his mother’s side. “The need to draw and paint runs in my blood,” he said in a interview with Vice.

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Most of his work focuses on landscapes that remind him of his childhood in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan, the place where his father went into hiding after the now infamous September 2001. But he also views American deserts as a muse, although they have not visited them, he recreates them by taking as a reference the landscapes of many westerns (one of his favorite genres), in particular unforgiven played by Clint Eastwood.

Omar’s style has a childlike simplicity, as a way of remembering the simplicity of his childhood on bin Laden’s farm in Sudan where his father had horses, goats and gazelles before turning it into a military base for many years ago.

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“I miss the fun times I had, the times when I was too young to know and too innocent to see the world around me,” he told Vice. “I miss the vast expanses of desert dunes and rough seas. I miss the peace of childhood.

The difficult adolescence

Omar was 15 when his father ordered that he be taken to al-Qaeda training camps near the Tora Bora caves to prepare for combat; however, at 18, he decided to abandon the mission and return with his mother to Syria.

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Omar admitted that he wasn’t particularly close to his father, mostly because he wasn’t very loving and caring. The last time he saw Osama bin Laden was at his compound in Afghanistan in 2001, when Omar was 20.

For years, Omar condemned the September 11 attacks and expressed his sadness for the thousands of victims who lost their lives. He also denounced the violent ideologies of Al-Qaeda and his father, distancing himself from them.

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He began to explore painting during the pandemic, focusing on those Middle Eastern landscapes that remind him of the tranquility and peace of his early childhood; of course, some of his works also depict the pain and the feeling of violence he went through, especially during his stay in the caves of Tora Bora.

But he also finds inspiration in the American landscapes he sees through westerns.

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Omar’s goal is to become an “ambassador of peace” and do the exact opposite of his father. He also dealt with and accepted bipolar disorder and all the psychological scars from his past.

“I want the world to know that I grew up; that I am comfortable with myself for the first time in my life; that the past is the past and that you have to learn to live with what happened,” he says. “You have to forgive if not forget, to be at peace with your emotions,” said Vice.

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Nowadays, Omar lives in Normandy, France, with his wife Zaina Mohamed Al-Sabah and some horses. He likes to spend time in front of a canvas and give brush strokes to bring his memories to life.

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