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Law abaya-ding citizens: Saudi prince orders private sector workers to wear traditional clothing

The decree comes amid a modernisation drive by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 April, 2018

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A Saudi prince has ordered that private sector workers must wear traditional clothing to "strengthen national identity", despite a modernisation drive led by the kingdom's crown prince.

A Saudi prince has ordered that private sector workers must wear traditional clothing to "strengthen national identity", despite a modernisation drive led by the kingdom's crown prince.

Mecca Emir (governor) Prince Khalid al-Faisal issued the decree last Saturday in an online statement, ordering men to wear the Saudi robe and women to wear modest clothing.

"Citizens working in the private sector in the region must wear Saudi clothing in regards to men and modest, non-eye-catching clothing in regards to women," the statement said.

The spokesman for the Governorate of Mecca said the move came after Sheikh Khalid visited a shopping mall and found Saudi men working while dressed in Western business suits.

"The dress of male workers must reflect Saudi identity and female workers must wear loose-fitting, non-transparent clothing," the spokesman said.

He added that committee has been set up to study the reasons why young Saudis were abandoning traditional clothing for more Western styles.

Civil servants in Saudi Arabia must adhere to a dress code that requires men wear the long white Saudi thobe and women wear a loose black garment called an abaya and headscarf.

Saudi private sector workers usually have more lenient restrictions on the clothes they can wear on the job.

The decree comes amid a modernisation drive by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Long known for its ultra-conservative mores, the kingdom has embarked on a wide-ranging programme of social reforms that includes mixed-gender concerts and a historic decree allowing women to drive from June.

Last month, Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman said that women do not have to wear the abaya and hijab so long as they maintain a 'modest' appearance in public.

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