Clash of the Memes: MaewBae Meets SaltBae in Dubai

Nusret Gökçe and Thaksin Shinawatra on Dec. 29, 2020 at Nusr-Et restaurant in Dubai. Photo: Nusr_et / Instagram

DUBAI — The face behind a meat-salting internet meme met an ousted former prime minister of Thailand at a luxury steakhouse Tuesday night local time.

The photo of Thaksin “Maew” Shinawatra and Nusret Gökçe, better known as Salt Bae, was posted on Instagram by the restaurant Nusr-Et Dubai around 9pm local time… though something might have been lost in translation.

“Thank you for visiting Mr. President,” the Instagram story’s caption said. “Thailand President.”

Thaksin is not the President of Thailand – though many of his royalist opponents routinely accused him of having such ambition. The former telecom tycoon served as the Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006, when he was toppled in a military coup. Thaksin later fled the country shortly before a corruption verdict in 2008, which he insisted was politically motivated.



Thaksin has several residences around the world, including in London, Dubai, and Hong Kong. The self-exiled 71-year-old reportedly caught the coronavirus in October in Dubai but eventually recovered.  

Turkish butcher Salt Bae skyrocketed to internet fame in January 2017 in a viral video of him sprinkling salt on steak. Messages sent to the Nusr-Et Instagram account have gone unanswered as of press time.

He owns the Nusr-Et chain of steakhouses, which has branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Miami, New York, and Boston.

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Photo: Nusr_et / Instagram