Hi-Tech, Old Fashion

Saudi Arabia wholeheartedly embraces state-of-the-art technology. It seems that everyone here has the latest electronic gadgets from cell phones and bluetooth to huge flat screen TVs and laptops. New businesses are sleek and clutter free environments with the most modern cool lighting fixtures and cutting edge design and graphics. Yet it still strikes me as strange and contradictory that businessmen here always wear the traditional white dress (called thobe) and headgear (called ghuttra or shumagg). Very rarely will you see a Saudi businessmen in a western suit and tie. Younger Saudis will often wear jeans and t-shirts, but for all business and formal occasions, the traditional garb will always be worn.


About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
This entry was posted in Clothing, Culture, Life, Photo, Saudi Arabia, Tradition and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Hi-Tech, Old Fashion

  1. ymala1 says:

    I like how you’re getting so much flak for making this observation, to put your worries to rest I know exactly what you’re trying to say.

    Oh, and you forgot one article of clothing that goes together with the ensemble, the requisite leather sandals. 🙂

  2. Hero says:

    Why would you call it old fashion ?? when it’s really not a fashion .. it’s who we are ..

    An old fashion is when you see them wearing the Late King Abdulaziz Ogal (عقال) ..

    Plus, you should be proud they’re keeping their identity ..


    • Hi Majed – The “style” of wearing long loose fitting garments like the thobes the Arabs wear is ancient. I’m from a place where men do not dress this way. I relate it personally to my understanding of biblical times, which was a VERY long time ago. I am not putting it down or saying anything bad about it. I am merely saying that pairing the ancient looking garb with such modern technology is such a glaring contrast or contradiction to me. I get the same feeling when I see traditionally dressed men driving the latest Hummer or Mercedes while talking on their mobile phones. It strikes me as wierd – I can’t help it!!!

  3. ameer says:

    As a Saudi, I have to say that (thobe) is not just a tradition.
    it’s exactly like “official west suit” but it’s used widely, and most men use it whenever they out from home..

    The only clothes my father have are: “Thobes”


  4. Curious says:

    I’m just curious why do you think should businessmen embrace Western clothing? They’ve adapted so much of west, aren’t they allowed to keep something traditional?

    • I did not say that I think Arab businessmen should embrace Western clothing. I actually love seeing them in their crisp white thobes and ghuttras. It’s just that coming from the West myself, it is just jarring for me to see men in traditional clothing using computers and such modern technologies. To me it is somewhat of a clash or a contradiction between two different worlds. I don’t know if I’m explaining myself right, but I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

  5. rantingcynic says:

    Groovy. It’s amazing how subversive change is. Eventually it equalizes all things, a beautifully sublime system with all the patience in the world… Go change!

  6. Fishing Guy says:

    Susie: Old habits are hard to break and will be with them a long time. There is actually a move to an even more casual look in the business office now. Jeans and a button shirt are okay. I do hope you have a great holiday season.

  7. Kate says:

    All societies have contradictions. These sleek, modern electronics offer an interesting contrast with the building you posted yesterday. The clothing is very important to them, both the young and the old, but tradition holds fast, I guess.

  8. Geogypsy says:

    To me, the thobe is the least of the contradictions. There are so many.

  9. Interesting commentary of modern techno toys vs. traditional clothing! I hope Santa will bring me a flat screen tv for Christmas . . .

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