The first lady of the United States, Melania Trump, today chose to not wear a headscarf upon arriving to Saudi Arabia Saturday. Covering one’s head is not required for foreigners, and some Western women choose to forego the headscarf while in Saudi Arabia.
The first lady wore long sleeves and pants to conform to the strict dress code that Saudi Arabia enforces for its female citizens but did not cover her head when she arrived at King Khalid International Airport in the capital city of Riyadh.
Under the kingdom’s strict dress code for women, Saudi women and most female visitors are required to wear a loose, black robe, known as an abaya, in public. Most women in Saudi Arabia also cover their hair and face with a veil known as the hijab.
Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also shunned head coverings, showing how common it is for high-level female visitors to skip wearing a headscarf or an abaya, the loose-fitting, black robe worn by Saudi women.
Michelle Obama did not cover her head when she accompanied then-President Barack Obama on a condolence visit in January 2015 after the death of King Abdullah. As Obama’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton also did not cover her head on visits to Saudi Arabia.
President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, a senior White House adviser who is accompanying her father, also did not cover her head.
Saudi Arabia is the first stop on a four-nation, five-stop tour that will also take the U.S. president Donald Trump and his family to Israel, Italy and Belgium before President Trump returns to the White House at the end of next week. The first lady is joining the president for the entire trip.