What Is the Traditional Costume of Saudi Arabians?

Traditional dress in Saudi Arabia covers the entire body except for the face and hands. Saudis prefer to wear traditional costumes as opposed to Western-style clothing.

Men and boys wear an ankle-length shirt called a thwab. Thwabs are manufactured from light-colored cotton or polyester blend fabric for hot weather. In winter, the garment is made of wool and is available in darker colors. Some thwabs are designed with long sleeves and either loose cuffs or fitted cuffs that open and close with stylish cuff buttons. On their heads, men wear a ghutra. This large square of cotton fabric is folded diagonally and is often worn over a white cotton hat that sits directly on the hair. A doubled black cord holds the headdress securely in place.

Women and girls wear long dresses called jallabias or thwabs, covered by a customary cloak. Dresses are made from many different textiles in an array of colors and are often lavishly decorated with such adornments as coins, lace, sequins and crystals. The cloak, called an abaya, covers the body from head to ankles. Traditional abaya color is black, but today Saudi women wear more fashionable colors. Some choose to wear sheer veils which offer further sun protection for eyes and skin.