I’m new to wearing Niqab and only just started once we arrived in Saudi Arabia. In the USA I normally wore shaylahs or maghnehs and abayaat or long tunics with skirts or pants but here all women wear abayaat (except for a few obviously non-Muslim, western expat women who I think are trying to flout the rules by going out in tunics and pants.) But, I digress, as far as niqab goes, the majority of women here in the EP wear Niqab. This goes for Saudi, Khaleeji and non-local Muslim women of all ethnicities so I fit in pretty well wearing Niqab and I think it saves a lot of hassle, allowing me to blend in as much as I can.
The ONLY real downer is whenever I go into a store the salesmen always assume I’m Arab and address me in Arabic and well, I dont speak Arabic beyond a few simple words so I usually have to tell them I don’t speak Arabic and hope they know enough English to assist me in my shopping needs…which in this area of KSA is difficult as few salesmen seem to know more than a few words in English.
There are several types of niqabaat popular here in the EP. I’ve heard that in the other GCC countries wrapping your shaylah as a niqab is popular, as is wearing a thin piece of material over the face (called a boushiyyah or gashwa depending on country your in) but here in the EP I have only seen either style used twice and they were sort of impromptu and not really meant for long-term wearing. Another type of Niqab which is popular, particularly in the USA and which I assumed would be widely available here, is the half niqab. But they arent. Ive looked around in shops but have had a lot of difficulty finding them and most women don’t seem to wear them. I think because the headband niqabs are a lot more breathable in the hot and humid summer weather. Additionally most women tend to flip up their niqabs when they eat (even in public places, so eating is easier as well.
The three popular types are thus;
1) The first and most commonly seen is the simple headband niqab…like what this women is wearing; I think these are the favorite of many women because they give a smooth look and you can bring your shaylah up over your forehead and achieve the trendy wrapping styles with ease. They are also “less fussy”, just “pop” and go…
And one laid out, Ive seen these in a variety of styles, some have a thin string that attaches the niqab to the headband while others have narrow pieces of elastic. The ones with elastic are supposed to be ideal with glasses. I wear glasses and really haven’t had problems with the regular niqabs as the eye opening tends to be quite wide and sufficient for wearing with glasses.
2) The second is the headband niqab with a flip-down eye cover. These are called “two-piece” niqabs” here whereas the one above is called a a “one-piece” niqab. This style is my favorite thus far, because you can flip the eye cover down for extra modesty and I like how they look when worn with the eye veil flipped back.
3) The third is the niqab with a nose string. I was surprised to find out that these are very popular here. Umm Abdullah had told me this style was a bit out of fashion and looked “tribal”…but shes traveled widely in the Hejaz and so maybe there, they aren’t very “hip”…but around these parts,they are popular and come in a variety of designs.
Here is one type which I see being worn frequently…they are very beautiful niqabs and I’m trying to find one. I believe the “ladies” suq in this area should sell them.
The other is a simpler headband niqab with nose string and with these, it’s popular for the fabric to be 2 layers but the layers aren’t stitched together, with the top piece is shorter than the piece under it. Ive actually found this Niqab to be extremely comfortable with glasses and incredibly breathable in hot and humid weather. They do look a bit “exotic” and any eye makeup being worn is accentuated, so when wearing this Niqab I try not have much sorma on my eyes.
Here is the one I recently purchased.
Onto fabrics apparently cotton niqabs are out, out, out!!! I remember cotton niqabs from back in ‘da day and remember (for the brief time I wore Niqab) hating them because the cotton fibers would get in my mouth. yuck. Every Niqab i’ve seen has been in a very very thin, open-weave crepe which is very breathable. I am, though wondering where the cotton niqabs have gone as I have a cotton backed crepe headband niqab that I borrowed from a friend (it’s originally from Saudi Arabia and was purchased in Jeddah) and in the intense humidity was actually the most breathable…even more breathable then the crepe. So I have started to think that a cotton niqab would be best for outside wear, I assume this is because of the intense heat and humidity. Inside and in cooler temperatures this isn’t a problem..during the summer while a crepe one is best for cooler weather or indoors. Because no matter how thin and breathable the crepe is, when outside and when walking in 109-120F heat they all can be a bit difficult to breath through.
** I am selling these sorts of niqabaat on my Arabian Threads eCrater store. **