Launched in 2009, EastEssence is an online marketplace for affordable modest Islamic clothing.
The company transforms modesty into simple yet high utility abayas, jilbabs, and kaftans that showcase your value and faith and improve your image.
I love East Essence for recognizing the wealth of culture and clothing styles catering to traditional Arabic, Pakistani, Moroccan, North-African, Bangladeshi, Turkish, and even Indian Muslim communities.
Just like Amazon, Walmart needs no introduction, as one of the largest online stores for anything you need, from clothes, to shoes, accessories, and so on.
Yet, not many of you know that Walmart is an absolute treasure when it comes to Arabic-style accessories.
From necklaces to watches, Walmart is an online store you must visit if you seek modern Arabic accessories you can’t find anywhere else at discounted prices.
What Is Arab Clothing Called?
According to the style and the region where it is come from, Arabic clothing has various names.
Classic Arabic outfits comprise a thawb – the Arabic word for garment, spelled thobe or tobe – and izaar, worn underneath.
The thawb looks like an ankle-length dress with long sleeves and is worn in the Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, Iran, and some African countries.
But modern Arabic apparel is more than just thawb; there are kaftans, abayas, hijabs, scarves, and lots of accessories in classic and modern styles.
What Do Most Arabs Wear?
To say that most Arab women wear hijabs, jilbabs, niqabs, or abayas, and most men wear keffiyeh or thaubs, would be stereotypical and even wrong.
That’s because, from the Middle East to Singapore and from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, Arab’s perception of decency and modest clothing continues to change.
Also, the continuous adoption of western values influences the local politics of each country uniquely, reshaping old rules regarding Arabic clothing choices.
For example, the law in Lebanon is quite relaxed when it comes to women having to cover their hair.
On the contrary, in Saudi Arabia, wearing a niqab is a must.
Finally, there’s the generational gap.
Older people still wear traditional Arabic clothing, while the younger ones find them outdated and out of style.
Therefore, to give you a better understanding of how most Arabs are dressing now, in 2022, the section below details Arabic clothing choices by country.
What Are The Main Arabs Dress Codes?
The main Arab clothing dress code depends according to the country we’re looking at, and even the age of the wearers.
However, one dress code rule is sure, and that’s to dress modestly or decently.
When it comes to Arabic clothing, four main geographic areas define the latest fashion trends:
North African Countries
Walking through the streets of Rabat or Tunis, you’ll see many men and women donning Western clothes.
But, how can you tell if they are Moroccan or Tunisian, only by their outfits?
It is quite easy; just look at the robes or headgear, as these are unique to each country.
Arabic Clothing in Morocco
Most Moroccans still wear the djellaba, a flowing and comfortable unisex hooded tunic with long sleeves.
Part of the national heritage, djellaba, is made in bright colors for women and earth tones.
Moroccans might accompany the tunic with traditional slippers – called balgha.
Traditional balgha are mostly yellow, but nowadays, you can find them in almost all colors.
Moroccan Women Clothing
Kaftan: an overdress similar to the djellaba but without a hood. It is usually worn on festive occasions or weddings and is not used in daily life.
Moroccan Men Clothing
Pandora: most men wear Pandora, a short-sleeved robe, much lighter than the djellaba described above.
Arabic Clothing in Tunisia
Spotting traditional Arabic outfits in Tunisia may be quite challenging, particularly in big cities.
But, a trip to the medina in Tunis or attending a wedding should give you a rare chance to admire the beauty of traditional Tunisian Arabic clothes.
Tunisian Women Clothing
Safseri: while not that common, older women still wear this white, long veil. Head for the old part of Tunis if you want to see one.
Tunisian Men Clothing
Chacha: a symbol of Tunisian traditions, older men still wear this flat red hat made of wool.
Arabic Clothing in Algeria
Much like in Tunisia, Western culture influences Algerian Arabic fashion.
Thus, seeing teenagers wearing typical Algerian attire might be difficult.
However, older men and women continue to wear two typical items of Arabic clothing, as below:
Algerian Women Clothing
Karakol: a traditional embroidered jacket that’s mostly worn on noteworthy occasions and weddings.
Algerian Men Clothing
Pandora: apparel typical to Algeria, usually made of brown or white wool.
Arabic Clothing in Libya
Nowadays, young Libyans tend to wear jeans and t-shirts.
However, if you leave the city and visit rural areas inhabited by the Berbers, you’ll see original Libyan attire.
Lybian Women’s And Men’s Clothing
Haik: this veil, almost forgotten in Algeria, is still worn by some Libyan Berber women.
The veil is made from a large white piece of cloth that covers one’s entire body.
Holi: a white cloak wrapped around the body and usually worn with the taqiyah.
Arabic Clothing in Egypt
Walking through the streets of Cairo is a great way to see a wide range of Arabic clothes and attires.
From women wearing a niqab to full hijabi girls, up to ladies who don’t cover their hair at all.
Equally, in Cairo and other big cities, it appears that Egyptian men do not wear classic Arabic clothing but polo shirts and jeans.
However, fellahin (farmers) and people living on the periphery of Cairo still prefer traditional and breezy attires.
Egyptian Women Clothing
Jalabiya or “galabeya”: Similar to the djellaba and the gandoura, the galabeya is a long tunic without buttons or a proper neck.
It comes in colorful and embroidered variations for women and more neutral colors for men.
Egyptian Men Clothing
Taqiya: this skullcap is usually worn in some Levant and Gulf countries under the ghutrah (men’s headscarf).
The uniqueness of the Egyptian fashion style is that some men wear this kind of cap on their own, without ghutrah.
The Levant Region
Like the Maghreb countries, western clothes are predominant in the Levant, especially in big cities such as Beirut or Damascus.
However, many local garments and attires can be seen in big cities and not just in the countryside.
So far, we’ve seen that all al-Maghreb countries have some Arabic clothing pieces in common, such as the gandoura or the burnous, a hooded djellaba.
While these rules apply across the Levant, some particular headgears or tunics are unique to each country.
Arabic Clothing in Jordan
In Jordan, western-style clothes are widespread, in particular in the western part of the country’s capital, Amman.
However, it is common to see more traditional and conservative attires in downtown and eastern Amman, and of course, in the smaller towns.
Jordanian Women Clothing
Combinations of niqab, hijab, jilbab, jeans, t-shirts, and khimar.
Jordanian Men Clothing
Shemagh mhadab – a red-checked keffiyeh widespread in the Gulf particularly in Saudi Arabia.
The color is typical of Jordan, recalling the Bedouin culture and values.
The more significant the tassels, the higher the social position and importance of the wearer.
Arabic Clothing in Palestine
Like in Jordan, traditional Palestinian clothes have been replaced with an American-European mix.
Palestinian Women And Men’s Clothing
Most men in big cities such as Ramallah or Jerusalem wear jeans and t-shirts, and women wear some soft westernized jilbabs and clothes.
However, the country has a specific chequered type of headgear that now represents the country on a global stage, thanks to Yasser Arafat.
Black & white keffiyeh – this color pattern has always been unique to Palestine, and it even became a fashionable item in America and Europe in the early 2000s fashion.
Nowadays, it represents support for the Palestinian cause.
Arabic Clothing in Lebanon
Among all the Arab countries, Lebanon deserves, arguably, the title of most fashionable and stylish.
Women tend not to wear hijabs, in particular in the capital city, Beirut.
Lebanese Women And Men’s Clothing
Serial – baggy and comfortable trousers also seen in the Gulf countries but under a dishdasha.
Serials are one of the very few traditional garments still worn by Lebanese countrymen. However, Lebanese wear them on their own, without a thobe.
Serials are so fashionable that even female versions were created.
Arabic Clothing in Syria
Much like the other Levantinian countries, Syria sees its men and women opting for Western-style clothes.
Older women wear hijabs, jilbabs, abaya, and niqabs.
Similarly, some older men can still be seen with keffiyeh and long tunics.
Traditional Syrian clothes of high quality are ornated with beautiful embroideries in black and red.
However, these traditional Arabic garments are now worn in the countryside on special occasions.
Syrian Women Clothing
‘That’ – Dyed black and red and often accompanied by a belt of the same color, the Syrian ‘that’ is a garment for women.
Syrian Men Clothing
Long, loose, and in black or other neutral colors, serial trousers are, just like in Lebanon, a key part of the traditional Syrian attire.
Men’s thobes share the same colors, red and black, in Jordan and Syria.
The Gulf Countries
It is easy to spot people from the Gulf as these countries have persisted in wearing traditional Arabic clothing styles.
Most men in the Gulf wear a white and long tunic called dishdasha to keep them cool against the region’s heat.
This tunic is often worn with short sherwal trousers, ghutra, white headscarf, or keffiyeh in the colder season.
Women wear wide, long robes called abayas, matched with a Shayla hijab (an Islamic headgear that shows some hair) and a niqab.
Even if the men’s thobes and women’s abayas might seem the same everywhere in the region, there are small dressing details between Qatari, Kuwaiti, and Omani styles.
Arabic Clothing in Saudi Arabia
Saudi men and women are still wearing traditional Arabic clothing.
In RSA, adherence to Islamic clothing and moderate dressing for both sexes is an absolute must.
Saudi Women Clothing
Niqab – not very often worn in the Levant and North Africa, niqabs are predominant in Saudi Arabia.
Only in cities such as Jeddah and Dammam are women allowed to walk around without the face veil.
Gloves – it is not uncommon to see women wearing black gloves to cover their hands and arms.
Saudi Men Clothing
Shemagh – is the Saudi name for the typical Jordanian keffiyeh, worn by Saudis in the winter as a replacement for the ghutra.
Dishdasha – a typical Saudi thobe that resembles a long shirt.
tight, with cufflinks (Kabak), it comes with a two-buttoned neck.
Arabic Clothing in Qatar
Even if only 25% of the 2.1 million inhabitants have Qatari origins, there is a robust national identity expressed through clothes.
Qatari fashion is similar to the Saudi Arabian one, but it is more colorful, especially on the women’s side.
The most common garments are:
Qatari Women Clothing
Al-Darra – some Qatari women wear this local version of the black abaya described above.
Qatari Men Clothing
Shemagh – the Qatari shemagh is typically white and has an African feeling thanks to the two tails on the back and the stiff front part, which resembles a cobra snake.
Dishdasha – the Qatari dishdasha comes in shiny fabrics and usually has a pocket.
Arabic Clothing in Kuwait
The 1.4 million Kuwaitis differentiate themselves from the 2.3 million ex-pats that live in the country because of the language they speak and the way they dress.
Here are the typical Kuwaiti garments:
Kuwaiti Women Clothing
Dara’a – the name is the same as the Qatari dress, but it comes in a more colorful version and different models.
It is often seen at weddings, formal meetings, traditional dance events, and so on.
Kuwaiti Men Clothing
Shemagh: the Kuwaiti shemagh is white and characterized by a scale shape when observed from the front.
Dishdasha: Similar to the classic one, the Kuwaiti dishdasha has a distinguishing one-button collar.
Arabic Clothing in Bahrain
Bahrain might not be as known as Saudi Arabia when it comes to Arabic clothing and culture, but it is nothing short regarding history, biodiversity, and, of course, fashion.
Bahrain’s traditional clothes are in line with other Gulf countries but have some unique features which differentiate them from the neighboring countries.
Bahrani Women Clothing
Abaya – lookout for red abayas with golden embroideries because they are worn only on special occasions.
Red – is the national color, and it is not unusual to see women wearing accessories of this color on important days.
Bahrani Men Clothing
Shemagh – white is the most widespread color. Worn loose, it lets the head move freely.
Dishdasha – the Bahraini thobe is very comfortable, loose, and is usually paired with a shirt collar.
Arabic Clothing in UAE
The UAE has a highly complex Arabic clothing fashion panorama.
While Dubai is the most progressive state among the Emirates in terms of clothing, all other areas remain conservative.
Westernized fashion has evolved here incredibly fast.
In the past, sirwal and burqa were must-wear for women.
However, these pieces of classic Arabic clothing have been replaced with abaya in recent years.
Moreover, the classic white thobe now comes in various colors.
Emirati Women Clothing
Abaya – Dubai is the land of fashionable and trendy abayas decorated with sequins, embroideries, and ribbons.
Emirati Men Clothing
Shemagh – Mostly white, but often found in the renowned Jordanian red & white pattern.
It is styled quite loose, over the shoulders.
Kandora – is the UAE name for dishdasha, a collarless and features a long tassel called tarboosh.
More recently, it is fashionable for men in the UAE to wear American-style baseball or trucker hats with their white or brown Kandora.
Arabic Clothing in Oman
The southern sultanate is very mindful of its culture and national heritage, Arabic clothing included.
That’s why traditional dress is compulsory for all employees in the public sector in Oman.
Western-style clothes have no space in the country, except for tourists, of course.
Traditional Omani attires could not be complete without:
Omani Women Clothing
Abaya – the black abaya with some colorful details is most common in the capital Masqat.
Dishdasha – just like Omani men, Omani women of rural areas wear this traditional tunic in a great variety of colors and with rich details. Very often, you’ll see it matched with loose-fitting sirwals.
Lahav – a typical headscarf wrapped around the head.
Omani Men Clothing
Kumma – there is no space for the shemagh in Oman.
Here, the shemagh is substituted by the traditional cap, which comes in different colors and has holes to keep the head cool.
Muzzar – a turban wrapped around the head, with or without a kumma underneath. Dishdasha: it can be white or in earth tones such as brown or grey.
It sports a short tassel, too.
Arabic Clothing in Yemen
This country has preserved an extraordinary heritage in terms of history and traditions.
Yemeni clothes are just another expression of how much Yemenis follow their customs.
As such, Yemeni’s Arabic clothing choice is a clear indication of the region they come from, be that the mountainous North, the coastal area of the West, or the tribal area of the South.
Still, it is not uncommon for men to wear Western clothes in the cities.
Let’s see what makes Yemeni’s attires different from all the other Gulf countries:
Yemeni Women Clothing
Balto – is the Yemeni version of the abaya, and it remains quite widespread in urban areas.
Lithia – more or less the Yemeni version of the niqab.
Sitara – literally, “curtain” is the traditional dress of the capital Sana’a. Nowadays, only older women wear this colorful piece of cloth, covering them from head to toe.
Yemeni Men’s Clothing:
Shawl – a headscarf, similar but somehow different from the shemagh, is wrapped around the head just like a turban, and it comes in many different colors.
Thobe – while the white thobe is very common in the North of the country, all coastal areas wear a skirt called ‘futa.’
Jambiya – it is not unusual to see a dagger hanging from men’s belts, especially in the northern areas.
Arabic Clothing in Sudan
The fashion style of Sudan is unique and easily recognizable.
Sudanese wear many Arabic garments widespread in the rest of the Middle East.
But, usually, Sudanese clothing has a brighter and more colorful version, which suggests us of other African countries.
While Western clothes are found in big cities, some people still prefer traditional loose-fitting pieces.
Let’s see what items of clothing you cannot miss if visiting Sudan:
Sudanese Women Clothing
Thobe – Different from the Gulf, this big piece of Arabic clothing is designed especially for women. According to the occasion, it is wrapped all around the body and the head, and it comes in varying patterns and colors. Older women generally don it as the younger generation wears alternatives such as abayas, long skirts, and dresses.
Hijab – being a Muslim country, all Sudanese women wear a headscarf, sometimes underneath the thobe.
Sudanese Men Clothing
Jalabiya – just like the Egyptians, Sudanese men like being comfortable clothes, such as loose-fitting tunics.
Sudanese tend to supplement it with a decorated scarf.
Taqiya – the skullcap is worn without the keffiyeh to keep the head cool, again, just like in Egypt.
If white robes and black veils are the only things that pop into your mind when you think about Middle Eastern clothes, then this article should help.
In recent years, Arabic clothing has become a complex reality where local traditions and Western culture mix.
From Morocco to Oman, the concept of ‘modest dress’ and traditional Arabic garments is changing, country by country, style by style.
The Middle East is a kaleidoscopic universe for Arabic clothing for both men and women.
And while western culture continues to influence Arab clothing styles, in certain Islamic countries, traditional garments remain a must-wear.
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After years of managing hundreds of fashion brands from London's office of a global retailer, Mandy has ventured into freelancing. Connected with several fashion retailers and media platforms in the US, Australia, and the UK, Mandy uses her expertise to consult for emerging fashion brands create top-notch content as an editorial strategist for several online publications.