Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Burkas, Abayas, Hijabs and My Learning Curve

First things first. When people asked about us moving to the Middle East they wonder if I will have to wear a burka. Turns out I didn't know much about Islamic dress code. For the sake of a quick conversation I just say "Yes except the face part." But the truth is I don't have to wear a burka (burqa). A burqa is a full body, head to toe, wrist to wrist covering, generally in black. The face is even fully covered with a thick cloth that works like a one way mirror where the woman can see out but you cannot see in. I do NOT have to wear that.

I wear an abaya. It is basically an all black, very long, flowy dress. It covers from the neck to the floor and to my wrists. It should not reveal the form of a woman so they are all very loose. The abaya the company gave me at the airport when I arrived has a small amount of pretty deep red embroidery on it and a few sequins. I must also carry with me a black head scarf at all times which I drape over my shoulders. I am told that I live in a more liberal part of Saudi so I don't need to cover my hair but if the religious police ever approach me and ask me to cover I need to be ready. It doesn't happen often but it does happen. Mine doesn't close properly in front so below the knee my leg shows. I need to get a zipper to make it properly or maybe a few more buttons but for now I just wear long pants until I can find a tailor or a fabric store.

Other pieces of the Islamic wardrobe are the hijab which we saw day in and day out in Singapore. I had many friends who wore this. In fact many people work the abaya in Singapore but in beautiful colors and patterns.

I told Brian last spring as we anticipated coming here that I could process the idea of covering up much more easily if they would just let me wear pretty prints and colors because the Singaporean women had some gorgeous things I would have loved to buy. In retrospect it's probably best for me to have an all black abaya selection. Otherwise I would amass a whole wardrobe of "pretty" abayas and hijabs that I would never be able to use anywhere else.

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