Thongs, thobes and an internet dressing down

Thongs, thobes and an internet dressing down
3 min read
15 May, 2015
Two videos concerning clothing have gone viral in the Middle East, says Alex Wright.
The two videos went viral on social media [Getty]
Two videos of Arabs being discriminated against for their choice of clothing, or lack of, have gone viral this week.

The first was of well-known Egyptian actor being scolded by Emirati women in a clothes shop in Dubai. Abeer Sabry allegedly let her underwear show in the changing rooms.

The Emirati women tell Sabry, who was accompanied by Tunisian actor Ferial Youssef: "Your thong, you weren't wearing anything."

Sabri replies: "Who are you?"

The woman filming says: "I am an Emirati citizen. When you're in my country, you don't speak. You can't wear clothes like that here. Maybe it's okay in your own country."

According to the National, Sabry, who is wearing a long black dress in the video, repeatedly walked out of the fitting rooms into the store wearing her underwear. The women were disgusted and called security.

Dubai's police chief, Khalil Ibrahim al-Mansouri, said legal action would be taken against the women for infringing the actor's privacy and tarnishing the image of Emirati society.

Speaking to the Egyptian newspaper Youm7, Sabry thanked the public for supporting her after the video became popular on the internet, something both her and her fans were angry about.

"I will not respond in any way to this aggressive woman out of respect for myself, my country, the UAE and its people for whom I have nothing but love," she said.

Tweeting about the incident, Lebanese journalist Imane Ibrahim said:

Translation: What’s worse: wearing a mini-skirt or shouting obscenities at people?

Emirati Twitter used Zubaida al-Balushi said:

Translation: There's no difference between the Emirati and the expat. The expat's body was half-naked but the Emirati's tongue was naked in its morals.

Left in the ghutra

The second video was of a Saudi man being denied entrance to a restaurant in Egypt for wearing his national garb: the thobe, a white, ankle length, long sleeved wool or cotton robe.

The video shows a restaurant manager in Cairo telling Saudi, Ghaleb Hazzaa, he cannot come into the restaurant because he is wearing a galabiya, traditional farmer’s clothes in the Nile valley. The galabiya is longer and baggier than the thobe, comes in different colours, and has wide sleaves and no collar.

An Egyptian man is seen defending the visibly the upset Hazzaa saying: "You're telling him he can't come it because he's wearing a galabiya. This is not a galabiya, this is his national dress and he is an elderly man.

"If you were in Saudi Arabia and you tried to go into restaurant wearing trousers and a shirt, would it be right if they told you to go home and change into a galabiya?"

The manager then tells the men he is just following the restaurant owner's regulations that people wearing galabiyas or thobes are not allowed to enter.

Another thobe clad man replies: "When Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi went to see the Saudi king what do you think the king was wearing? A thobe."

Egyptian Minister of Tourism Khaled Rami has personally apologised to Hazzaa for the incident, and the restaurant has reportedly been shut down.

Ministry official Abd al-Fattah al-Assi said in a TV interview: "I apologise not only to Saudi Arabia, but to all Arabs for this act by someone who does not understand his job."

Twitter users in the Gulf launched the Arabic language hashtag #Boycott_Egyptian_Tourism.

Twitter user @AUNT112 said:

Translation: Boycott Egyptian tourism they don't respect our Gulfi dress. As if their food was any good anyway. Turkey is better, prettier and cleaner.

Saudi Twitter user Nawaf bin Nayif al-Otaibi said:


Translation: An Egyptian resturant doesn't let in someone wearing a Saudi thobe. What a pity they've lost our billions. #Boycott_Egyptian_Tourism.