The Arabian Peninsula is one of the blessed regions of the world, but when people think of it, they usually only think about it being an oil-rich region.
While that is true of the region, what is also true is that the region is blessed with some of the most exciting football talents, one of which is Omar Abdulrahman.
Referred by many as the ‘Arabian Messi’, Omar has been one of the most consistent Asian players since he burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old with Al Ain in the 2008/2009 season.
The year 2012 was when he came to the attention of fans the world over following his performances in the Olympic Games, and many fans wanted to see more of him. He had been turning heads in the Asian Champions League and the Arabian Gulf League all along.
For a player of his talent and standing in Asia, most people are still surprised that he hasn’t been signed by a big European club just yet.
In truth, he has come close to playing outside Saudi Arabia, but a combination of factors that shouldn’t be beyond his immediate control has kept him firmly in his comfort zone until now that he can be said to be closer to the end of his career.
Throughout his career, Omar has been linked with moves to European teams and even impressed at a trial with Manchester City. City were keen on signing him but the strict work permit rules in England meant he had to move somewhere else on loan to meet the necessary requirements.
Omar, like most players who have been spoilt by the luxurious salaries being offered to them by the Gulf state rejected the idea of playing on loan in Belgium for one season.
This wasn’t the only time that Omar has come close to signing for a European side. Nice also came close to signing the skilful attacker a couple of seasons back.
A formal bid was lodged by the French side and supposedly accepted, however, the club waited and waited for the player to arrive at the Cote d’Azur, only for Al Ain officials to stop taking calls and they had no choice than to sign Wesley Sneijder that summer instead.
The Nice and Manchester City story is just two of the many as several other teams have tried and failed to convince him to make the move across the Sahara desert to Europe.
Omar seems to have become a victim of his own environment. The leagues in the Arab nations are not the most popular, yet because of the rich state of the countries in that region, players who play there are hugely rewarded.
Omar is reportedly being paid £75,000 per week after tax, this doesn’t take into account the numerous bonuses and endorsement deals he gets for being the poster boy of the Arabian Gulf League. He could spend the whole of his career in Europe and never earn half that amount of money. Why should he then take the risk and move across to Europe for a huge pay cut?
Omar remains one of the best players to ever come out of Saudi Arabia and may even be one of the best players we have ever been blessed with but as he approaches his 28th birthday, we may never know how good he really could have been.