Types of Traditional Clothing
of the Middle East and the Maghrib

Creating clothing from cloth depends on a number of factors such as the width and availability of the cloth, the environment and social status issues.

Clothing falls into a number of broad types. Common types found in the Middle East and Maghrib include:
length of fabric.

Unmodified lengths of fabric

The simplest clothing is formed by wrapping or pinning an unmodified fabric length around the body. The izar is wrapped around the body from the Maghrib to Syria. In the Maghrib the melia is pinned at the shoulder. Simple cloaks such as the haik and chador are also formed from unmodfied lengths.

More detail and photos ...


Sleeveless Cloaks

With minimal shaping and stitching a range of more complex cloaks can be created such as the aba, burnoose and milaya lef.

More cloak detail and photos ...

algerian djebba.

Pullover Tunic

Fabric is folded in half and a hole added for the head. Sides may be sewn or simply left open and a sash wound around the body. For example the djebba worn in Morocco and Algiers.

More sleeveless tunic detail and photos ...


Tunic with Sleeves

To the basic tunic rectangular sleeves are added. Rectangular or triangular sections may be sewn into the side seams to allow movement. Examples include the gallibaya from Egypt and the farasia from Morocco.

More sleeved tunic detail and photos ...


Front Opening Coat

When fabric width is narrower or easy access to underlying layers is required, the front may be made in two parts which can be either fastened or wrapped. The archetypical garment of this type is the kaftan. Layered over this would be the binish - worn from Egypt to Turkey as well as the Arabian Peninsula.


A tight fitting, front opening garment for the upper body worn throughout the Middle East and the Maghrib known as the sedria or firmia.


A garment for both men and women that covers only the lower half of the body. Some are full and gathered at the waist. Others are wrapped.

More skirt detail and photos ...

Tunisian sserual.


A divided skirt - most trousers in the Middle East are worn under other layers and tend to be very full.

Head Covering

Although Islam enjoins both men and women to cover their hair, people of all religions do so throughout the region. The style of head covering gives a lot of information about the wearer's location - in both time and space, their status, and their religion.

The most common forms of male head-dress are the ghoutra and the turban. The skullcap and fez which are used beneath these are also sometimes worn on their own.

More detail and photos about men's headwear ...

Women's head-dress can vary from a rolled band worn by a married Bedouin woman, to the loose flowing veil of the Palestinian woman, to the full enveloping chador of Saudi Arabia.

More detail and photos about women's headwear ...

Women often have a face veil in addition to the head covering. This is often referred to as a burqa or niqab.

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