Islamic/Arab clothing

Islamic/Arab Clothing

For many, the native dress of Arab peoples is odd if not absurd to their modern sense of styles.  Somehow they tend to see this as proof of backwardness of Arab society.  However, such thinking is in itself very flawed and narrow.  If we can see other cultures such as Japanese, Pakistani, or places in Russia, South America, and where culture still plays a strong role in families, people can still be seen wearing traditional clothing.  The question should be asked why?  Often we find that clothing not only fulfills an identity but also practical solutuions.

Upon first moving to the Middle East I found the clothing odd myself.  Yet after having lived here for more than a decade, it is clear that the type and shape of the clothing serves several purposeasir dress from saudi arabias.  Naturally for the women, there is a religious fulfillment by wearing loose, long clothing that covers the woman and maintains her modesty. Secondly, there is distinct cultural connection to the type of dress worn depending upon the location. 

  Palestinians typically wear clothing with traditional cross stitch needle work, which is very intricate and valued.  Within Saudi Arabia, women from the Asir region will wear a different type of dress compared to those of the Hijaz. Several of the dresses are interesting and different in design.  Many women in Islamic countries  increasingly choose to wear the hijab or scarf. And while in places like Saudi Arabia where the face cover is expected of Saudi women, many of the practicing Muslim women choose to do so of their own free will out of a sense of piety. When women go out they typically wear an Abyaya to cover normal clothes like jeans and t-shirts or maybe fancy dresses.  This again is to protect the woman’s modesty and high honor in society.


 As for the men, most men wear some kind of Thobe, or long white garment similar to a shirt with thin cotton pants underneath. The Thobe is perfectly suited for the hot desert climate of Saudi Arabia. The design allows air flow to cool the body. Additionally most men wear the Ghutra or Smagh which is a square scarf, made of cotton or blends, folded in a triangle and worn over the Tagiyah (a white cap). It is either all white or red and white checked. There is no significance placed on which kind the man wears. The Quran states that a man should be judged by his deeds not on his appearance so the Thobe also expresses equality.graduates in their thobes

The traditional dress may seem outdated in these ‘modern’ days, however living in this environment will quickly show any person that the long clothing protects the body from the elements and sand, and when caught in an unexpected sand storm the Ghutra protects the face and nose from the harsh elements. One soon learns to see the Thobe as an elegant form of clothing, and hey, try to keep them sparkling white day after day as they do!




5 Responses to Islamic/Arab clothing

  1. I wanted to inform you that I created a Modest Exercise Skirt (i.e., EXERSKIRT) that allows one to be comfortable while exercising, without compromising their modesty.

    To view it, please visit

  2. Thanks, you’ve got nice posts here.. As per the topic, a lot of modern clothes are now being adapted but still preserving it’s functionality and modesty =)

  3. waqar says:

    Hey, extremely good website. I am also working on this topic. I infect came through this on Google and I am Happy I did, I am just absorbing as a lot info as I can at the second, keep updates. Thank you.

  4. Adam says:

    Do you think the thobe is worn in Arabian countries because it is practical and cheap or because it is the most suitable clothing from an Islamic perspective?

    Also, long clothing may protect the body from the elements and sand but how much time do you think that people in Saudi, Kuwait, Oman spend out in the elements? Anyone who spends a large amount of time outdoors probably does not wear a thobe.

  5. Thank you. I think that all of your points are valid. Yes the thobe fulfills the Islamic requirement that men also be wearing loose fitting clothing which is respectful and decent. However anyone who has lived in the desert when unexpected sand storms blow up can attest that there are huge benefits to such clothing especially the headcover. Surely the men at home do not always wear a thobe but rather clothes like a caftan or sports wear.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: