Melania Trump refuses to wear headscarf in Saudi Arabia, causes stir on Twitter | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Melania Trump refuses to wear headscarf in Saudi Arabia, causes stir on Twitter

The US first lady wore a black pantsuit with a golden belt, but did not cover her hair. Many on Twitter pointed out that US President Donald Trump had in 2015 criticised then first lady Michelle Obama for making the same choice during her visit to the country.

world Updated: May 20, 2017 20:52 IST
Joyeeta Biswas
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday.
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday.(Reuters)

Melania Trump started her very first foreign trip as US first lady with a small dose of controversy, after her sartorial choice set tongues wagging across social media.

She chose not to wear a headscarf. In Saudi Arabia.

The Middle Eastern nation has strict dress codes for women, and women there are required to wear a long loose robe known as an abaya. Most also cover their hair with a niqab.

Melania wore a black pantsuit with a golden belt as she stepped out of Air Force One onto the Riyadh tarmac, but she had not donned the customary headscarf. A picture of her being served beverages in the attire was later posted on her official FLOTUS account.

The US first lady is not the first foreign female dignitary to forego the headscarf on her visit. Earlier this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel chose not to wear one. And British Prime Minister Theresa May too decided against covering her hair, saying she wanted to be a role model for women.

Head coverings aren’t required for foreigners in Saudi Arabia and most Western women do not wear one.

However, Melania’s decision to eschew the dress code caused a stir because, as many on social media pointed out, US President Donald Trump had in 2015 criticised then first lady Michelle Obama for making the same choice during her visit to the country.

Trump had said in a tweet that, while many people applauded Obama’s decision, the people of Saudi Arabia “were insulted” and that the US had “enuf (sic) enemies”.

Of course, Melania does not have to abide by her husband’s preferences on dress code, but it’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time that the behaviour of Trump or those around him in office has clashed wildly with his earlier rhetoric.

And it’s unlikely to be the last.