Arts & Culture

What Makes Saudi Arabian Traditional Clothing Unique?

Al-Aqal Traditional costumes are considered a historical and cultural heritage, a symbol of pride, and an ambassador for the country to which they belong.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is characterized by each region wearing a different heritage dress.

Leaders-mena provides in details what the most prominent fashions are in each region of Saudi Arabia.

Kingdom’s Diverse Heritage of Fashion

Several elements have influenced fashion in the Kingdom, the most prominent being the geographical and historical components.

In addition, conventions and traditions are linked to fashion. This has resulted in regional differences.

Western Region

The western region, being an area where different cultures meet, or because of guests’ two holy mosques, has resulted in a wonderful blend of traditional costumes from various cultures.

Due to the presence of the largest and oldest tribes in the western region, such as the Harb clan, Juhayna, Bani Saad, and others, 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.

Their costumes were distinguished by choosing dark-colored materials to suit environmental factors, grazing, and agriculture

As for decorations, they often used geometric and botanical designs.

They were executed with silk or cotton threads, tulle 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.

The regions of embroidery are generally on the chest of the costume, the sleeves, the cut lines, and the sides.

The second line is city dwellers’ urban clothing, 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. The decorations are vegetal and embroidered with silk or metal threads, lace, sequins, and pearls.

As for embroidery places, they differ from one dress to another. However, 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 a different execution.

It is also usually worn with these clothes: a tight dress called the princess or the kurta. In addition, 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.

The town-line pants, the Halabi pants, the shayla, the forbidden, and the rounded pants are worn with them.

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.

This is because of its isolation, lack of mingling with other peoples, and preservation of her history.

Zari is a long, broad garment. The woman usually wraps the sleeves over her head and wears them on her head to give the appearance of a backbeat.

A famous Najd dress is the Al-Muftafa dress, made of pieces of colored cloth stitched together. We also mention the Al-Marudun dress, called the Maharid.

Southern Area

Because of its proximity to Yemen, it was famous for its clothes full of colors, and the momentum of decorations. All the tribes of the south were distinguished by their clothes with fabrics close to the sadu fabric. In addition, 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 lead beads to make beadwork. In addition, they used a chain stitch, and this is one of the most significant features of the southern tribes’ costumes.

Saudi Arabian traditional clothing: The Northern Area

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

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

Saudi Arabian traditional clothing: Eastern Region

The eastern region was distinguished by the pickpocket dress, which was worn by women on all 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 from the ground.

Pickpocket dresses are defined by the ability to wear them 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 worn under the Dara’a and the pickpocket dress are the “shorts”, which the Gulf people have mastered in 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 foot opening is blocked with buttons specifically designed for him, allowing the lower “pants” embroidery to show through. The shield is built with a split on the sides, neither too long nor too short.

The most significant 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.

Town-line, flax, and poplin are all good choices for trousers.

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

Saudi Arabian traditional clothing: Al thobe

For a Saudi citizen, the thobe is a daily need. It’s a long, flowy robe with four buttons on the chest side. It has 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 opposing triangles.

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

Saudi dresses are typically white, with dark colors used in winter, although Saudis rarely wear colorful dresses in the summer. Saudi clothing is not brightly colored. The garment is made 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. It is normally worn such that a shemagh or ghutra can be worn over it.

Ghutra & Shemagh

The Saudi Arabian wears a red and white shemagh or white ghutra daily, at work, and on special occasions 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: throwing the two ends of the shemagh or the ghutra on the head without tightening so that it simulates the balanced shape.

– Cobra style: 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. Al-Aqal has 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 depending on the type of bisht. Saudis wear light bisht in the summer and heavy bisht in the winter.

The bisht or mashallah is applied after the complete Saudi dress is donned. 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, employees usually wear it while on the job.

Bisht Protocols

There are protocols and customs for wearing the bisht or mashlah in 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 paired 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 sewing type. It was named after Prince Muhammad bin Mandeel, one of the Najd princes 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 when 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, distinguished by its lightness, color beauty, and embroidery.

The Daqla

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

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