US president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were in Riyadh on Tuesday to pay their respects to the late Saudi King Abdullah. However, social media missed the plot of show of support and condolence and much attention was focused on something else: first lady’s attire. For first lady Michelle Obama, just a few hours in Saudi Arabia were enough to illustrate the stark limitations under which Saudi women live.
The Associated Press reports, Mrs. Obama stepped off of Air Force One fully covered, wearing long pants and a long, brightly colored jacket, but no headscarf. That’s unusual; in Saudi Arabia women are expected to cover their heads. Under the kingdom’s dress code for women, Saudi females are required to wear a headscarf and loose, black robes in public. Most women cover their hair and face with a veil known as the niqab.
ut covering one’s head is not required for foreigners, and some Western women choose to forego the headscarf while in Saudi Arabia. In photographs from the official events, other foreign female guests are also shown not wearing headscarves. Washington Post reports, more than 1,500 tweets using the hashtag #ميشيل_أوباما_سفور (roughly, #Michelle_Obama_unveiled) were sent on Tuesday, many of which criticised the first lady.