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After he was acquitted of child molestation charges in 2005, Michael Jackson pulled a disappearing act. At the end of June 2005 he went to Bahrain, the tiny 33-island archipelago in the Persian Gulf known less for its isolation than for playing host to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet: If Jackson wanted to get away from all things American, he chose poorly.

So why Bahrain? Blame Jermaine, who is a friend of the son of the ruler of Bahrain. Jermaine must have impressed on his brother that he could get himself some private acreage and recharge in Bahrain.

Bahrain flag
Abdullah Hamad Al Khalifa did him one better. He lavished dollars and attention on Jackson, called him "my brother," and told media outlets that he had formed "a close personal relationship" with the star. No word from Sheikh Dad if he approved, though he must have. Jermaine, after all, had converted to Islam in 2001 after a visit to Saudi Arabia. The sheikh must've thought he could go two for two with the Jacksons, if not an eventual grand slam. Raised a Jehovah's Witness, The closest Jackson got to Islam until then was through his dalliances with the Nation of Islam. (The sheikh got his wish, belatedly: in November 2008, British papers reported that, on something of a whim, Jackson converted to Islam and changed his name to the Arabic sounding Mikhaeel.)

In September 2005, Mohammed Bin Sulayem, the United Arab Emirates' champion rally driver, took Jackson on sightseeing and real estate tours of the Emirates, with Abdullah in the backseat, probably to remind Jackson that his heart, left neither in Los Angeles nor San Francisco, was not in Bahrain, not the Emirates. Hadn't Abdullah given Jackson $300,000 for a "motivational guru"? (Abdullah, it should be noted, is an aspiring song-writer, and thought he and Jackson could cut a few albums together.)

Sure enough, two months later, in November 2005, the Bahrain Tribune reported on its front page that Jackson, who had gone to Bahrain bankrupt, had pledged to build the Neverland of mosques--a gigantic gift from Jackson to Bahrain in recognition for the island nation taking him in after his trial and tribulations Stateside.

The gift was the equivalent of make-up sex: the relationship between the thriller and the sheikhs was on the rocks. Before long Jackson was quitting Bahrain and all plans to establish himself or build a mosque there. Jilted Abdullah was suing him for $7 million.

They settled a couple of years later, but Jackson's looks eastward were over. He went back to the more familiar smog and sorrows of Los Angeles. It was there that he collapsed and died today as he was preparing for a 50-date concert streak in England. (Juan Cole has more on Jackson's Mideastern serenade.)

They'll be mourning in every time zone, Bahrain and every Middle Eastern square mile included. I don't doubt that more than a few muezzins in minarets across the Islamic world will also be humming their Jackson tunes between salat, their five required daily prayers. At least those muezzins worth their moonwalks. They didn't call them the Jackson Fives for nothing.

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June 26, 2009 at 7:28 am
(1) Senna says:

Awwwie someone is ticked off because Micheal chose Bahrain over Lebanon awww <3

June 26, 2009 at 7:59 am
(2) Pierre says:

Are you kidding? If he’d gone to Lebanon he’d have carried out his wildest reinvention of all: he’d have donned an olive skin by day two, converted into a politician by day three, run for president by day seven, and been assassinated by day twelve. Talk about pop.

July 10, 2009 at 3:10 am
(3) fatima says:

We have also learned that I’m there for the states of Bahrain and I saw a strange woman dressed up for the thin veil Dai and to a large extent, and the son of a white blond hair and the Prince, Jr. (right?) That in the same age
I want to bring the idea of Bahrain
True, they are small and callous king has been taken from this small town, leaving 70% of the population only 30% Imagine that he likes a lot of foreigners, although it was not loved M. Black hosted this

November 1, 2009 at 12:34 pm
(4) Angelina says:

Fatima, what the heck are you saying? English 101… learn it.

September 22, 2010 at 7:32 am
(5) Mado says:

Shame on you to write in susch a bitter way on the day Michael died.

December 4, 2010 at 11:13 am
(6) Danna says:

What an incredibly biased post.

BTW Jermaine converted in ’89, not 2001. He’s said so many times in interviews.

February 1, 2011 at 5:48 am
(7) teejay says:

omg hahahaha wth did Fatima write???? insulting journalism!

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