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Saudi Arabia doesn’t Request Headscarf for Diplomats or Presidents’ Wives | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for a welcome ceremony at the Royal Terminal of King Khalid International Airport, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP)

Riyadh – Since the formation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, female politicians and presidents’ wives have never been requested to cover their head. Foreign visitors are not forced to follow the regulations and are entitled to wear any appropriate outfit.

Like other recent female Western visitors, US First Lady Melania Trump did not cover her hair upon arrival in the kingdom.

Yet, since British Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit two months ago, Western media had been controversial about the head scarf. They debated whether she will wear the veil or not. Back then, observers saw this as an attempt to shift focus from the actual purpose of the visit.

A brief review of history shows that prominent female politicians who previously visited Saudi Arabia didn’t have to cover their head.

Late Princess of Wales Diana Spencer visited the Kingdom in 1986 with her husband Prince Charles and didn’t wear the veil.

A series of diplomats and politicians visited Saudi Arabia after that, like former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Former First Lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel all opted not to do so.

Observers believe this is Western media’s effort to diminish the importance of the visit to the region. The media would rather discuss such a small issue rather than seriously tackle the major political event.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir was quoted as telling media on Thursday that America’s First Lady won’t be required to dress conservatively or tone down her usual high-fashion look, which often includes bold colors, stiletto heels and the occasional low neckline.