Culture


On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Khaled Al-Faisal issued a decree stating that men who work in the holy city of Mecca—even those who work in the private sector—must wear traditional Saudi clothing to their jobs in the region. The traditional men’s “thobe” consists of a long white robe and red and white checkered head covering, and is already required dress for government employees. But some Saudi men took to Twitter to complain about the dress rules expanding to include private sector employees, arguing that it’s unfair for outside forces to dictate their personal wardrobe choices.

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“The most important thing in clothes is to be modest and not over the top,” one Twitter use wrote. “Other than that it is a personal choice. Asking employees to wear traditional clothes is out of place.”

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“It is not right,” another said. “Thobes are not practical unless you work in customer service and come face to face with people, but not in our office jobs. For everyone insisting that wearing traditional clothes shows your pride in your Saudi identity, with all due respect, your point of view is old.”

Saudi women, who are traditionally required to wear long, black abayas over their clothes, found the men’s objection to the new dress code only slightly ironic. They took to Twitter to reclaim the same insults men have lobbed at them for not dressing “traditionally” enough, hilariously reframing them to be about the new Mecca male dress standards instead. A sampling of their tweets, translated from Arabic:

“I have always thought of men wearing western clothes as cheap products for sale, while guys who wear modest and loose thobes have high morals and ethics and were raised well, exactly like a covered lollipop.”

“I swear to God any guy who is not wearing the traditional clothes I won’t marry him and I won’t be honored to marry him.”

“Perfect, and the clothes better be loose and cover their hairy legs.”

“This is good because I can’t contain myself when I see a guy with a tight shirt and his muscles popping out. I can’t stop myself from harassing them.”

“And guys are crying, ‘Why do women harass us?’ Man–your body is the reason. It is not our fault if you are fascinating to us.”

Saudi women have been using Twitter to speak out against what they see as unequal treatment for years. Last week, they started a hashtag to help fight back against driving schools who were charging them more for driving lessons than men. Now they’re using the platform to revel in the sweet irony of men being upset about also having to dress traditionally. As one Saudi woman told ELLE.com, “Men are losing their minds on Twitter about the dress code and I am so happy they’re finally getting the same treatment.”

With translation by Khadra Alattar





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