Saudi Arabia: Saudi Men Making a New Fashion Statement

saudi_undies  (photo:  Hadath)


An interesting article published in Al Bawaba discusses a new trend among young Saudi men choosing to go out publicly in what is viewed as their underwear.  Yes; you read that sentence correctly.

The traditional dress of the Saudi male is a long shirt/robe which is called a thobe.  The most common thobe is all white although depending on the season and weather, thobes are sold in different colors and types of fabric.

long pants under the thobe  All men generally wear traditional undergarments underneath their thobes and especially when wearing a white thobe which can be easily seen through.  The traditional undergarments are usually made of white cotton and consist of elastic waisted pants from the waist to the ankles; a white cotton t-shirt which may be either short sleeved or sleevless; and white briefs.  The briefs are usually boxer style and can be fitted or loose.

It’s very common for Saudi men, young and old, to relax in the comfort and privacy of their homes wearing only the traditional undergarments.  But to wear them out in public is similar to a Saudi woman going out in public without an abaya.  Therefore, it is not surprising that this new trend of young men going out publicly in only their traditional undergarments is raising eyebrows and sparking mixed reactions.

It is evident that this is a type of rebellion and a new trend carried out by the young Saudis.  For unlike the Saudi woman, the Saudi male has multiple choices on what is viewed as “acceptable” wear when out in public.  He is not expected to cover from head to toe in black.  He can wear Western clothes.  He can wear shorts (down to the knees) when the heat is overbearing.  No one will blink an eye at such attire.

I agree with the assessment in the article that the young Saudi men have too much time on their hands and not enough choice of activities.  As a result, they want to test their boundaries and now that is publicly appearing in their traditional underwear.

Thus far there has not been an official ban or directive from Saudi’s religious and moral police (Haia) against the young men’s choice of wearing their traditional underwear in public.  However, I would not be surprised if that changes if enough complaints are received that the sheerness of the material allows onlookers to see beyond the coverings of the underwear.  Some of the fabric can be very transparent, even when the Saudi is wearing his thobe over his traditional undergarments.


8 Responses

  1. Good afternoon Bedu,

    I read your blog sometimes with complete bewilderment. I read your answer to the person who wondered how you could live in Saudi as a woman with interest because I have often wondered that. I have a business which places international students in Home Stay and I certainly agree with today’s column that states that “Saudi young men have too much time on their hands.” Of all the students from around the world, students from the middle east, in general with of course exceptions, are the least motivated. The men that come from Saudi are not unique in having too much time on their hands. I am sure there are many reasons – wealth, government subsidies, etc. but I can’t help but wonder if being able to keep half of the population from competing (ie, women) for jobs has something to do with it. It seems young middle eastern men have taken the worst from American culture and have lost sight of their amazing heritage. I know that there are exceptions but I see a lot of kids in my business and while the young middle eastern women are highly motivated, the same can’t be said for the men!

    This has been an interesting journey for me and I continue to learn but it is very frustrating to me to see intelligent young men who are delighted when they get a “C” on a course and are actively looking for the easiest university they can find! Thanks for listening and good luck with your health!


  2. Thanks for taking the time to share your comment, observation and perspectives, Sharon. I hope that the students who do get to live in a home stay receive greater insights on typical American life and a better emphasis on studies and motivation.

    On Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 4:07 PM, American Bedu

  3. I have been in the Kingdom for eight years, and thank god have never seen a Saudi in his under garments(lol). I do know that when young Saudi men are creating funny videos on youtube, they do take off the thobe to add humor. 🙂

  4. I saw the Saudi Gangnam Style video on YouTube last night and was wondering what the Hey was going on: Why are they in their underwear? Then, I saw your post. OMG.

  5. ha ha ha .. kids are the same everywhere i guess. coming up with the weirdest most bizarre ideas..
    well they just have to wear a bit more thicker pyjamas and they’d be all set.
    i did find the thobe somewhat cumbersome and why would a guy want to be in a gown. these provide much more movement.

    yes thobe when work properly in full attire looks cremonial and nice but nor for everyday i guess.

  6. As long as they don’t start wearing those underwear pants hanging low on their hips…..

  7. I keep looking at these and they remind me of the mormon magical underwear.

  8. Many years ago in Jersey City New Jersey, I saw an Indian man wear pajamas outside on a summer evening. I don’t think he realized they weren’t meant as ordinary street wear. Now this sounds much sillier.

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