Not all the leaders are memorable. Yemen was in the early days of its civil war. King Saud in Saudi Arabia was an embarrassment, soon to be deposed (the next year) by Prime Minister Prince Faisal. The Gulf was still under British rule, except for Kuwait. Iraq and Syria both had Baathist coups that year and new leaders had not yet emerged. Fouad Chehab in Lebanon is mostly remembered for steering the country out of the 1958 civil war, an early foreshadowing of what was to come in 1975-1990. Turkish Prime Minister İsmet İnönü was a man of an earlier era, a nationalist hero brought back after a 1960 coup. Sudan's Ibrahim Abboud is largely forgotten. King Idris I in Libya was no power player.
But the big names seem, somehow, bigger in retrospect than their counterparts today, whether for good or ill: Nasser, Ben Gurion, the Shah, Bourguiba, and two relative newcomers in the Maghreb in 1963, Hassan II and Ben Bella.
I've run this clip of Nasser making fun of the Muslim Brotherhood before (it has subtitles in English, but the delivery is what matters, and you probably can get a good sense of Nasser's way with the crowd even if you don't know Arabic):
|Declaring Independence 1948|
In North Africa, Habib Bourguiba in Tunisia was already 60 years old in 1963, founding father of his country. A hero of the national independence effort against the French, and famously a vigorous secularist and Westernizer. He was widely respected and influential regionally at the time. Bourguiba would increasingly prove intolerant of opposition, jailing rivals and even disowning his own son and political heir; he had himself named President-for-Life, and clung to power stubbornly long after his faculties were badly impaired; finally deposed by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on grounds of senility in 1987, he lived on until 2000, dying at the age of 98 (officially: some think he was older than admitted and may have been 100 or 101). His reputation would be healthier had he not hung on to power so long; but while his successor Ben Ali is disgraced and in (admittedly comfortable) exile, the most elegant boulevard in Tunis remains Avenue Bourguiba.
|Ben Bella in old age|
Powerful figures. Their heirs and successors today, I would venture to say with confidence, remain in their shadows, though many of them ruled with an iron hand.