Traditional Costumes of Saudi Arabia Between Past & Present

Traditional costumes are considered a historical and cultural heritage, a symbol of pride, and an ambassador for the country to which they belong, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is characterized by each region in a different heritage dress,

 Out of interest in the history of the dear homeland, and highlighting this important aspect of its aspects, you will know in detail about the most important fashions in each region of Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom’s diverse heritage fashion

Several elements have influenced fashion in the Kingdom, the most prominent of which is the geographical and historical component, as well as the conventions and traditions linked with fashion, which has resulted in regional differences.

Western Region:

As for the western region, being an area where different peoples meet, or because of the influx of guests’ two Holy mosques, it led to the creation of a beautiful blending and a wonderful blend of traditional costumes.

 According to the presence of the largest and most ancient tribes in the Kingdom in the western region, such as the Harb tribe, Juhayna, Bani Saad, and other tribes; we have two important traditional fashion lines.

The first line is the tribal line and its companions are the inhabitants of the desert and villages, and their costumes were distinguished by the similarity in choosing dark-colored materials; to suit environmental factors, grazing, and agriculture

As for the decorations, they often used geometric and botanical designs and were executed with silk or cotton threads, tulli ribbons, lead beads, colored beads, farewells, and crescents.

The most notable pieces of clothing are the flat (broad) dress, the robe, the perm, the burqa, and the musfaa, and the regions of embroidery are generally on the chest of the costume, the sleeves, the cutting lines, and the sides.

The second line is the urban clothing of city dwellers, with pieces varying in usage, kind of event, and social position; there are costumes for weddings and special occasions, such as the civil dress, the customer, the door shutter dress, and the sleeved dress, among others.

They are all made of light fabrics such as tulle, chiffon, or georgette, and the decorations are vegetal and embroidered with silk or metal threads, lace, sequins, and pearls.

As for the places of embroidery, they differ from one dress to another, but it is often on the sleeves, the front cutting lines, the chest of the dress, the piece of the pillowcase, the veil (peram), and the burqa. This dress is the same as the flat dress at the beginning, but with different execution.

It is also usually worn with these clothes a tight dress called the princess or the kurta, and the trousers, the sutra, the mahram, the rounded one, and the jewelry.

There are regular costumes, such as the daraa with narrow sleeves, or the flowing dress without embroidery, and the town-line pants, the Halabi pants, the shayla, the forbidden, and the rounded one are worn with it.

Central District Fashion

It was famous for the shift dress, which is an article of broad, light clothing and one of the threads of the Zari, because of its isolation, lack of mingling with other peoples, and preservation of her history.

Zari is a long, broad garment, and the woman occasionally wraps the sleeve over her head and wears it on her head to give the appearance of a backbeat.

It is also famous in Najd, the Al-Muftafa dress, which is the installation of pieces of colored cloth attached with stitches. We also mention the Al-Marudun dress, which is called in the western region the Maharid.

Southern area

Because of its proximity to the state of Yemen, it was famous for its clothes full of colors, and the momentum of decorations all the tribes of the south was distinguished by their clothes with fabrics close to the sadu fabric, and they used wicker hats like Asir, in addition to the influence of clothes on the environment surrounding them,

We note that they decorated their clothes with colored Khurrian beads such as Ghamid and Zahran, and the lead beads from which they used to make beadwork, as well as the chain stitch, and this is one of the most important features of the costumes of the southern tribes.

The Northern Area

Its people took a lot from the character of the countries in the north, specifically in the cross-stitch, so we find many northern tribes whose clothes are close to the Palestinian dress, and they also have a dress called the customer, which is similar to the Moroccan dress.

In conclusion, the proximity of the northern region to the northern countries made it affected by their culture in addition to the culture of the motherland.

Eastern Region

The eastern region was distinguished by the pickpocket dress, which was worn by women on occasions, and was used in its manufacture of light fabrics,

Women used to wear the so-called “Dara’a” under the pickpocket dress, especially if it was transparent, and the Dara’a is a long dress with long sleeves hanging to the ground,

The pickpocket dress is defined by the ability to wear it alone without an outer garment. Its edges and around the neck are embroidered, and it is made of various plain or colored materials like silk, cotton, wool, and linen.

Among the pieces that are worn under the Dara’a and the pickpocket, dress are the “shorts”, which the people of the Gulf have mastered in their engraving and decoration.

The trousers are usually made of two colors of fabric from the same drapery cloth or pickpocket dress, cotton for the upper part and silk for the lower part that reaches the ankle, where the lower hem is embroidered

 The opening of the foot is blocked with specially made for his buttons, allowing the embroidery of the lower “pants” to show through. The shield is built with a split on the sides, neither too long nor too short.

The most important fabrics used in traditional costumes

Concerning the fabrics used in traditional costumes, the designer Rania explains that there are many fabrics, including tulle, chiffon, georgette, crepe, dock, and chalky.

For trousers, use the town-line, flax, and poplin.

To dress the rotator, use the urinal and the jadeite chick, and for the tissues, use the urinal and gauze.

Al thobe

For a Saudi citizen, the thobe is considered a daily need. It’s a long, flowy robe with four buttons on the chest side and long sleeves that stop at the palms that cover the majority of the body. This style is defined by the open or closed ends of the sleeves, which are either open or closed with a button (cufflink).

The Saudi thobe features two types of collars that cover part of the neck: one is traditional and takes the shape of a circle, while the other is commonly known as (a flag) and takes the shape of two opposed triangles.

The number of buttons determines the size of the collar, which is either one or two. On both sides of the garment are two similar pockets, with a third higher pocket visible on the left breast. The clothing should not be excessively long, short, broad, or narrow.

The Saudi dress is typically white, with some dark colors used in the winter, although it is uncommon for Saudis to wear a colorful dress in the summer. Saudi clothing is not brightly colored. The garment is made out of a variety of textiles, including wire, polyester, synthetic cotton, and pure cotton.

The Cloak

It is worn on the head and is of average size, not huge and noticeable, and is normally worn such that a shemagh or ghutra can be worn over it.

Ghutra and Shemagh

Saudi wears the red and white shemagh or white ghutra daily, at work, and on special events and holidays. The shemagh, also known as the ghutra, is a square robe that is folded in a triangle configuration to cover the head and shoulders and is attached to the headband when worn. The shemagh has red or white threads stitched on it, but the ghutra does not.

Wearing a shemagh or ghutra in different ways:

– The official manner (as used by sheikhs): one end of the shemagh or ghutra is placed on the opposite shoulder.

Bint al-Bakkar style: It is the placement of the two ends of the shemagh or ghutra over the head.

– The balance method: by throwing the two ends of the shemagh or the ghutra on the head without tightening so that it simulates the shape of the balance.

– Cobra style: by wrapping the ends of the shemagh or ghutra over the head and around the shoulders like a (cobra snake).


It is a black piece similar to a braid placed on the head to fix the shemagh or the ghutra, with a medium thickness that is not too wide or too thin. It does not enter the head but proves it.

Bisht (Mashleh)

The fabric thickness varies amongst the different forms of bisht. The light bisht is worn by the Saudis in the summer, and the heavy bisht is worn in the winter.

The bisht or mashallah is worn after the complete Saudi dress is donned, and it is worn by kings, princes, ministers, sheikhs, and prominent merchants during weddings and other official interviews. Although it is part of the official Saudi uniform, it is usual for employees to wear it while on the job.

Bisht Protocols

There are protocols and customs for wearing the bisht or mashlah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For example, in the daytime, light-colored bishts are used as white bishts, and at night dark bishts are used as black bishts, and it is often worn with the white ghutra bisht, and there is no harm in wearing the red or white shemagh with it.

Types of Bisht

1- Al-Mandeli: It is the most famous, oldest, and most popular type of sewing. It was named after Prince Muhammad bin Mandeel, one of the princes of Najd before the second Saudi state.

2- The Syrian: It is modern sewing if measured with the mandeli, and its origin is Al-Zari sewing.

3- The parameter: it is a fabric woven with a pile, and during its weaving, the zari is inserted in the back and shoulders, and it is not widespread at present.

4- Al-Bakhiya: It is similar to the sewing of the mandili and the Syrian, and there is no difference between them except that this type is used in which silk is used instead of Zari.

5- Al-Hasawi bisht: This bisht was made in Al-Ahsa, as the people of Al-Ahsa were and still are known for making the bisht, and it is one of the most luxurious and luxurious types of bisht.

6- Najafi bisht: one of the most famous types of ancient bisht, which is still at the forefront of all bishts, as it is distinguished by its lightness, beauty of color, and embroidery.

The Daqla

The daqla is not considered an element of the official Saudi dress. It is a dress similar to the bisht, but it is full of decorations and is often worn at weddings, and the kings of Saudi Arabia always wear it when performing the “Ardah” and in the Janadriyah Festival in particular.

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