Saudi coupleBahraini men and women traditionally wear Arabic-style clothing. Practically the same or very similar garments we can see in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, etc. There are many Muslims in Bahrain, so their everyday and festive clothes always correspond with religious rules and beliefs. Male Bahraini costume is rather conservative and simple, while female garments can be bright, richly bejeweled, and really beautiful.

Men’s folk dress

Bahraini men have been wearing the same style of clothes for centuries. These garments are perfect for the local climate and lifestyle. And so, men continue to use them even in the 21st century, when plenty of Western-style clothing is available.

For example, the traditional long robe called “thobe”. It is a loose long-sleeved robe that covers the whole body. The color of fabric is usually white or beige, but winter thobes can be darker. Summer garments are made from cotton or other light materials and winter thobes from wool (they are thicker and warmer).

A thobe isn’t worn on bare skin. There are thin and light underwear items – a shirt and pants.

On top of a thobe, men sometimes put a woolen cloak called “bisht”. This garment is usually black or dark. A festive bisht can be adorned with gold embroidery.


Boy's traditional bisht garment
Boy's bisht


The folk Bahraini headpiece for men is a construction consisting of 3 items: a knit skull-cap called “keffiyeh”, a large cotton headscarf (plain white or with red&white checkered pattern) called “ghutra”, and a black cord called “agal” that keeps the ghutra in place.


Ghutra and agal headwear
Ghutra and agal


Women’s folk dress

Bahraini women use traditional abaya dress and a Muslim headpiece (hijab, nikab, or other variation of a veil).

The abaya is a long black attire with long sleeves, it reaches the ankles or even the floor. The material is very thin and delicate, it drapes beautifully around the body. Some abayas are simple and plain, others can look rather fashionable, with embroidery, lace trimming, and decorative borders.


Woman in abaya
Woman in abaya


A lot of Bahraini females, though not all of them, cover their head with some kind of a headscarf. Some cover only the hair and neck, others also cover the face fully or partially. These headdresses are not always black, sometimes they’re pretty colorful.

Some women add black gloves to their outfit.

Although, Bahraini female folk dress is not always fully black, it can be very different. A festive dress called “jalabiya” is usually bright red with a lot of gold embroidery and gold jewelry. Little and young unmarried girls in Bahrain sometimes wear charming gold hair jewelry – sort of a cap created from gold coins and chains. It looks fantastic!

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