Types of niqabs here in the Eastern Province

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…

(picture taken from Flickr)

(picture taken from Flickr)

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.

(picture taken from Flickr)

(picture taken from Flickr)

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. **


11 thoughts on “Types of niqabs here in the Eastern Province

  1. I am continually frustrated by all the synthetic fabrics in Islamic clothing stores. I can’t stand polyester and rayon, and it’s a pain finding nice hijabs in plain old cotton. I don’t understand it, as most stuff in American online Islamic shops is imported from the middle east! I don’t like wearing synthetics in summers in the great white north; I don’t know how women in hotter places can stand it!

    • Well our contract is for 2 years but en’shallah we’ll stay in KSA for longer, and if not KSA then the region…

  2. Congratulations on your move to Saudi, and I’m glad you’re settling in! I’m curious whether you find the transition to a niquab totally natural? Is there any part which feels different, or do you feel pretty much the same about it as what you wore in the US? Thanks, and I enjoy reading your posts!

  3. Yes in Jeddah most niqabs have the cotton backing (and it IS cotton, not rayon; that is the woolly annoying stuff); I think I only purchased one that didn’t for a friend as it was the only one I could find sans eyeveil for her. The niqab with the string between the eyes is only worn by bedouins or foreigners in Jeddah (usually Indonesians), with Makkah and Madinah its hard to tell as there are so many visitors and tourists but it seemed to be the same there. Over here in London we get a lot of Saudi visitors and they tend to wear the half niqabs here; or perhaps the headband niqabs without nose string; you can tell those with the nose string are Kuwaiti or from the UAE….

  4. I’ve always adored the cotton niqabs. I never got cotton in my mouth, alhamduillah! LOL Like the sister above who is frustrated by ONLY polyester (I don’t find it breathable) I search for cotton ones.

    LOL…I love the “country” string ones too (they are called properly burqas, unlike the Afghani chadari). I go thru phases of nose string and plain! LOL

  5. Hi

    Did you find in the meantime from a suq
    3) The third is the niqab with a nose string (the one on the photo from flickr)

    • No sorry I didnt. I expect I could probably ask someone to just make one. If you’re interested go to my ecrater store and purchase one of the “widows peak” niqabs and I can go to the shop that sells them and ask them to stitch on some satin and add a nosestring.

  6. I use to be in love with my niqabs especially the one with the nose string due to my sinus issues I can no longer wear them. 😦

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