Saudi Clothing for Men and Women

Saudi attire is rooted in custom and religious beliefs. Even though the temperature in that region is extremely hot, clothing for men and women covers virtually the entire body. The clothing protects the bodies and also adheres to religious rules on modesty.

Men’s Clothing

Men wear a traditional garb called a “thobe”. This is an ankle-length robe type garment made of white or light colored cotton. For cooler weather, the thobe is dark colored wool. All Saudi men wear this garment regardless of status. On special occasions, they may wear a “bisht” or “mislah” over the thobe. This is a long cloak trimmed in gold and comes in white, brown or black.
Thobe for men in Saudia
Cap for muslims in Saudia

Cap for muslims in Saudia

The headdress starts with the “tagiyah”, a small white knit skullcap. Over this men wear the “ghutra” a large cotton square folded in a triangle. This is usually red and white. This is folded over the tagiyah. The loose ends of the ghuta can be used to protect the face in case of a sand storm and can also be used to shield the face from the sun. Lastly, the “iqal” a double black cord holds the ghuta in place.

The basic attire for Saudi women is the “abaya”. This is a plain black robe worn by women over their regular clothes. In south Asia this garment is known as a “burqa”. The abaya covers the whole body except for the face, feet and hands. The “niqab” is a veil used to cover the face except for the eyes. A head abaya covers the entire body from head to toe and is more commonly found among women in south Asia.

Abaya styles for women in Saudia

Abaya styles for women in Saudia

Religion dictates that women cover themselves in the presence of men who are not close relatives. Women in public will generally wear the abaya, a scarf to cover the hair and a veil to cover the face. However, Saudi women are very much interested in fashion and will wear western style clothes under the abaya. Abayas in different colors are also becoming popular and some prominent designers have shown them in fashion shows. Thobes for women may be embroidered or beaded on the front.

Dress codes for foreigners are not as strict as for Saudis but foreigners are still expected to dress modestly in public. Bare midriffs or bare arms and legs are not acceptable for men or women in public. Women are expected to cover their heads and wear loose clothing. Tight fitting clothes on women are not acceptable.


About the Author

Sara works at HilalPlaza, which offers Women’s and Men’s Islamic Clothing of various styles and fashions.


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