You know the WAGS...now meet the more sinister DWAGS . That’s Dictators’ Wives And Girlfriends. Big-money footballers’ wives have lifestyles to die for — an expression that takes on a chilling meaning with these Wags. The women who have married the world’s most vile dictators can enjoy luxury beyond our wildest dreams, often at the expense of the suffering of thousands.
While their subjects live in misery and abject poverty, the glamorous first ladies indulge in lavish spending sprees. Women such as Leila Ben Ali, 55, the hated president’s wife helped spark the Arab Spring in Tunisia last year. She was toppled in her homeland but skulked away with £ 37.5million. Here, with the fate of tragic Syria in the balance, we look at others like her.
Idi Amin’s fifth and favourite wife was nicknamed Suicide Sarah because she was a sexy go-go dancer in the Ugandan army’s Revolutionary Suicide Mechanised Regiment Band. Amin was 50 and she was 20 when they were married in a lavish ceremony in Uganda in 1975 which cost more than £ 2 million. The dictator cut the cake with a huge ceremonial sword. The best man was Yasser Arafat.
During Amin’s terrifying dictatorship from 1971 to 1979, he fed opponents to his pet crocodiles. His ego was boundless and he gave himself the title — His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular. He also claimed to be king of Scotland. Sarah fled with him to Libya after an uprising, then escaped his clutches by fleeing to Germany. She worked as a lingerie model, then moved to London. In 1999 she was fined for a cockroach problem in the cafe she ran. She is thought to be organise events in the capital.
You would never think Grace was first lady of one of the poorest countries. The Zimbabwe president’s wife is infamous for her shopping sprees in which she visits the world’s luxury destinations. Along with Robert Mugabe, 88, who she married in 1996, she is a regular guest at some of the most exclusive hotels and restaurants. Grace, 47, blew £ 75,000 in a shopping spree on a 2003 trip to Paris.
In Zimbabwe, she is known as Gucci Grace or The First Shopper because of her lavish spending. But her wealth comes at a terrible price. Cables exposed by Wikileaks allege that “Dis-Grace” and her husband have “reaped tremendous profits” from diamond mines where thousands of people toil in a climate of abuse and violence. Judging by reports it would be unwise to woo her. Sources say one lover, Peter Pamire died in a car crash. Another, businessman James Makamba, fled the country when rumbled.
The mother of seven of Colonel Gaddafi’s eight children, Safia Farkash must have been good at turning a blind eye. She said — “If I thought he was a terrorist I would not stay with him.” But by the time he died last October, aged 69, Safia had fled to Algeria with daughter Ayesha, 36. Now Saifa, 60, who owns an airline, has an estimated personal wealth of £ 20 billion.
The wife of the former Philippines dictator became notorious for her vast collection of shoes after the couple were kicked out in 1986. A former beauty queen born into a penniless family, she collected 2,700 pairs. Imelda, 83, and hubby Ferdinand fled to Hawaii in 1986 with billions of dollars in cash and gold. They owned luxury properties around the world. Ferdinand died in exile in 1989 aged 72. She beat fraud and racketeering charges in the US in 1990 but spent 20 years fighting demands to return millions to the Philippines.
The wife of the “Last Pharaoh” Hosni Mubarak, 84, was first lady of Egypt until they were ousted in February 2011. While 40 per cent of Egyptians were toiling for less than £ 1.20 a day Suzanne, 71, built up a nest egg of £ 3 million. She also dipped into her husband’s £ 26 bn fortune. Suzanne has had to put her shopaholic lifestyle on hold as she is being investigated for crimes against the state.
If the world’s youngest dictator Kim Jong-un, 28, had a lavish wedding, the rest of the world was not even treated to one photo. North Korea’s state media merely announced last month that he was married — to Ri Sol-ju. We were told she is 27 and stands 5ft 4 inches. Some sources say they could have been married in 2009 and had a baby in 2010. It has quickly been noticed that Ri, a singer, has spurned drab monotone uniforms and prefers chic and colourful Western-style outfits. But she has a long way to go before she is in the Imelda Marcos league. A recent date with her hubby was a visit to the memorial of former leader Kim.
Six months ago Syria’s first lady was basking in her caring and stylish image as if she was a Princess Diana of the eastern Mediterranean. Today the reputation of Asma, wife of hated Bashar al-Assad, 46, is in tatters. Asma, 36, is renowned for her spending in a dictatorship where most of the population has been living in miserable poverty. She snapped up artworks worth £ 35,000 at a London dealer while war raged on Syria’s streets. Asma can’t plead ignorance.
She was born and educated in London and has a science degree from King’s College. As blood flowed in her shattered homeland she was eyeing up a pair of £ 6,000 crystal studded designer shoes. And she was in talks for a bespoke marbletopped table worth £ 6,257. Earlier this year she said her charity work gave her a “very busy agenda” and she was comforting the victims of the uprising. But intercepted emails showed that as her husband’s tanks were shelling protesters she was more concerned with online shopping. She spent tens of thousands and there was a “steady flow of invoices from Chelsea cabinet makers and Parisian interior-design stores”. Asma has not been seen in Syria since a bomb killed several top brass last month. Rumours that she has fled to Russia have been denied.