Saudi Arabia: So Many Niqabs to Choose From!


I must first preface this post by stating that I rarely covered my head let alone wore a niqab while I was in Saudi Arabia.  There were only a few occasions when it was appropriate for me to wear a niqab.  I wore one but have to confess I did not like the feeling or what to me felt like obscured vision due to the niqab.  The reason that I am writing this particular post is in response to several queries I have had lately about the differing type of niqabs women may choose to wear in Saudi Arabia.  I am not an expert on the subject but will address it to the best of my ability.  I am really counting on those American Bedu readers who do wear the niqab to provide their comments on why they wear a niqab, what style they have chosen and why as well as how easy it is for them to see while wearing the niqab.

The niqab is the accessory which some Muslim women and many women within Saudi Arabia will choose to wear so that their entire face is covered from view with the exception of the eyes.

saudi niqab


The most common style of niqab in Saudi Arabia and the one I wore when necessary is the niqab which covers the face and has a slit in the center for the eyes to show through.  This style of niqab did not necessarily come in a wide variety of sizes and as a result, the one I had fit poorly.  My eyelids and eyelashes would brush or rub against the eye slit and in turn irritated my eyes.  The niqab would either tie in the back around the hijab or in some cases you could secure it with Velcro strips.

newer niqab style



Another niqab which was rising in popularity prior to my 2009 departure from Saudi Arabia was the niqab which was worn from the nose down.  This particular niqab left the eyes unimpeded.  Some Saudi women will not wear this type of niqab seeing it as too progressive.  However, younger Saudi women and more open-minded Saudi women who still choose to wear a niqab prefer this version as it is more aesthetically pleasing and comfortable.

beudion niqab

Some women and particularly Saudi beudoin women may prefer the niqab that has a fabric line which separates the eyes.  Needless to say, this niqab would need to fit well for it could be quite annoying if the eye divider did not fall as it should centered between the eyes.

While the traditional niqabs are black, some women are starting to wear niqabs that are in a different color or have some type of decoration or appliqué on them.

But as I stated in the beginning of this post, I need to rely on the experiences of American Bedu readers to share with others on why they wear a niqab, what style they have chosen and why, as well as how easy it is for them to see while wearing the niqab.


8 Responses

  1. Sorry, this article is useful where there is the dust! but if you read better…. the face can be seen….. we should be more balanced!… it’s in the middle that you can find the right way!right?

  2. I have to agree about the vision obstruction thing. I dislike wearing hats and covering my hair for this very reason, even when I was little. Even when I am protecting myself from the sun, a baseball-style cap is about as much of a brim as I’m comfortable with and it still bothers me. If any readers could recommend styles that are less vision-obstructing for hijab (for me) or niqab (for others), that would be appreciated!

  3. Hello,

    I just wanted to add that most women get their niqabs tailor made for their face shape. It rarely costs more than 40SAR to do this, and a good tailor has several designs to choose from.

    There’s also a saying among the more open females in Saudi: “Niqab after Maghrib is like wearing suede and hats after 5pm”

  4. A couple times in Germany I saw women wearing these, hard to describe here, brass headgear-like things. There was a brass strip that went across the forehead, and down the bridge of the nose, and then “winglets” that fanned out towards their cheekbones. I think the woman may have had some small, clustered dot tattoos on her face. A friend told me she was probably a Bedouin- but what does that mean? Where do you think she was from? Does this description make sense?

  5. In reply to nmr. A Bedouin is one whose background is to move around the area with their livestock seeking pasture, and the headgear as mentioned I believe originates from the UAE mainly. In response to Sarah, when you say that most women get their niqabs tailor made; is this only with regard to face shape or does it include any “blinging up” that they fancy or feel they can get away with, and also any decrease/increase in severity of face and eye coverage? Maasalaama, Amelia

  6. Strange one

    Why bother. The dress wear has nothing to do with it. You are falling for propaganda nothing more.

  7. Why do they have to cover their faces anyways! What is wrong with these people!!!!!

  8. As far as I know, the Niqab is a pre-islamic dress which developed in dusty, hot areas.

    Taken religion and traditions aside, this kind of dress is a pretty good protection against UV-rays, dust and several insects. And in extreme heat, the loose wide robes and veils feel much cooler than having the sun on the skin (or on tight clothes).

    Just sad that it has been turned into a symbol for an extreme islam and heteronomous women.

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