Bedouin wear: traditional clothes in modern times

fawaz wearing his traditional bedouin clothes
Wadi Rum became known as a tourist destination after the release of the movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in the 1960s. And even more after the publishing of a book on rock climbs in the late 1980s. Only during the 1990’s, we started to settle down in Rum village. Since then, a lot has changed for our tribe, and we are constantly challenged by the influences of village life and modern times. With the time passing by, we can say that it did our culture did not change that much. Nor did it change our way of dressing. For sure, we sometimes wear jeans and t-shirts, but we still favor our Bedouin wear. Nothing beats a serwal with a thoab, and keffiyeh. And our women wear a madraga or abaya, and the usaba. Besides that we find our clothes comfortable to wear, they also have a function. Did you know that? In the blog, we will tell you more about the Bedouin clothes.

Bedouin male clothes: a thoab and serwal

Bedouin men wear a thoab, which is a long, dress-like cloth made of a mostly light fabric. Traditionally the thoab is white. But we also wear brown, blue and gray tones. Under our thoab we wear a t-shirt and serwal. A serwal is a wide, white trouser, which is also made of light fabric, mostly cotton.

Our clothes are an excellent example of development due to environmental influences. They provide us with a loose double cover that protects us from the harsh sun and blowing sand.

Shemagh and keffiyeh: the Bedouin male head covering

On our head, we wear the keffiyeh or shemagh. Wearing a headscarf is a famous, well-known tradition of the Arab men. The shemagh, the red and white cloth, can be worn with or without the agal-rope. The wearing of the shemagh is a sign of male status. A man who wears it is assumed to be able to uphold the obligations and responsibilities of manhood. The keffiyeh comes in many different colors and patterns and can be tight in various ways. How we fasten it depends on what we prefer or need at that moment.

Bedouin female cloth: madraga

The madraga, Bedouin females wear, is a long black dress. They have worn this cloth since time immemorial. Usually, it is nicely embroidered with a variety of colors on the chest and sleeves. Underneath they were trousers and a t-shirt too.

Usaba: the Bedouin female headgear

Bedouin women also use headwear. All women keep their hair covered with a usaba. It is a black hairband that they wrap around their head and tied at the back or the side of the head. Married women can be recognized easily as they also cover their forehead with the band. These days the usaba starts to come in different colors.

Where to buy our traditional headgear

When you visit Wadi Rum, you can purchase your keffiyeh in Rum village or one of the Bedouin shops in the desert. Of course, we are more than happy to teach you how to tighten them Bedouin style.
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