Alternative to abaya? Try lab coat

Although the article states that you can see women in the white labcoat look in the Malls, especially in my area. I admit that Ive only ever seen a handful of young women in labcoats and usually they are OVER abayaat or skirts around the malls here. I always reckoned they were nurses or doctors from the hospital ACROSS the street! LOL…

Although let me tell you. Ive often looked at the Saudi High School girls uniforms and considered buying 1-2 for myself…LOL…for use in the US as they are very similar to a plain A-line jilbab thats closed front and they are really cheap. LOL…im crazy huh.


Alternative to abaya? Try lab coat
Fatima Sidiya I Arab News

JEDDAH: Nouf wears a lab coat instead of an abaya when she is in public. She likes people to think she is a doctor. But she is not. In fact, she is a 24-year-old geography graduate.

Nouf is part of a growing crowd of young women who have taken advantage of a loophole in the system which demands women wear an abaya in public. The one permitted alternative for them is a white medical lab coat — but of course, only for doctors and medical personnel.

But it is not only medical personnel who wear lab coats in public; students in different parts of the Kingdom who are studying architecture, art, biology, home economics and other subjects are now going along with this trend.

What pushes these students to take off their abayas in public and wear a lab coat is mainly to feel “easy going.” While it now looks normal in the morning in public places including coffee shops, restaurants and malls in Jeddah, Dammam and Dhahran, the case is, however, different in Riyadh, Abha and Madinah.

Madinah medical students are allowed to take off their abayas only inside hospitals and it would be not acceptable for a woman to wear a lab coat in public unless she has her abaya on.

In Abha, and even inside hospitals, students have to put their lab coat over their abayas.

Riyadh girls, however, have their own tricks, said Abeer, a student majoring in hospital administration, adding that though the women guards at the university do not allow students to leave without abayas students normally wait until they are in the car park and then take off their abayas before heading elsewhere.

According to Abeer, there are different styles of lab coats and students may spend up to SR200 for a body-hugging design in special material, and their families might not know that they take off their abayas in public.

“Part of it is fashion and also for others to know that I could be a doctor and not just another person. I also hope it is a revolution against the abaya,” she added.

Khawla, a medical student in Jeddah, often wears her lab coat. “Because I don’t usually have a long break and I go home for lunch, I don’t bring my abaya because it is heavy and a bother to carry around the university.”

According to Khawla, “Some art students put on lab coats so they can wear jeans or trousers because it is not permissible to wear pants at the university unless the student is wearing a lab coat.”

She added that her lab coat, on some occasions, makes people give her respect, listen to her and even give her priority.

Khawla said she did not go shopping when wearing her lab coat because she has been harassed by young men several times. She said at the university students are told that their lab coats “must be below the knee and not tight. They also prefer that we don’t go out in it, but there are no firm rules.”

According to Khawla, lab coats are better than tight abayas.

An administration employee at a hospital in Dammam who was against publicizing the matter said she did wear an abaya over her lab coat while in the car and while eating lunch in public places. “We go out during our break time; we have never been harassed. The bottom line is that we are following the proper dress code.”

Badriya Al-Bishr, a Saudi author and columnist, said though there are agreements on dress code and fashion that when it comes to modesty and ethics particularly in Arab and Islamic communities, dress codes do change over time.

“Islam calls for modesty for both men and women,” she said, adding that the mere size of the lab coat is already considered hijab in some countries such as Turkey and Syria.

Commenting on the acceptance of lab coat in some areas while others have yet to accept it, she said, “Traditions stay the same in remote regions and rural areas. When the area is away from a city, tradition is strong. Traditions have always been stronger against women. Women tried 20 years ago to change this color — black — but it was not acceptable.”


4 thoughts on “Alternative to abaya? Try lab coat

  1. I went to an Islamic school for a few months; part of the uniform was a jilbab but by the standards of those days (1997) it was very A-line and unfrilly (was actually more abaya-esque) and also properly full length on me (never used to happen in those days) so I used to wear it all the time and even when I left the school I kept wearing it for years until it actually wore out. I have been tempted by the school uniform ‘jumpers’ from alhediya, they look like they’d make a nice alternative to an abaya in summer; with a thin long sleeved t under and long khimar over

  2. I have some of the jumpers from alhediya. They are not as modest as jilbab/abaya because shirt sleeves are tighter fitting, but with your khimar over them I think they’d be the same as jilbab/abaya.

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