From Function To Fashion: The Omani Burqa

When hearing the word burqa, the first thing that comes to some people’s mind is oppression. The Omani burqa, veil of the Bedouin women, states the contrary. What first was a functional gear became a true fashion item.


The burqa in Oman is not a tool to cover the face from men’s gaze. It was a tool to protect Bedouin women from the sun and sand. As you know, Oman is located in the Arab Peninsula and the Arab Peninsula is practically one big sandbox. For the people who still aren’t convinced and wonder why men don’t wear it if the Omani burqa is for protection: actually they have their own “burqa”, the keffiyeh –also known as a turban.


Today the burqa has become a fashion item worn all over the country. Even by non-Bedouin women. These women wear the burqa on different celebrations, for example by the bride on her wedding. The so called ‘batoola’ can be designed in different colours, materials and shapes leaving the design all up to the person wearing it. This makes the modern burqa slightly different from the traditional one that is more basic and without too much going on.


But there are still Bedouin women in Oman that wear the burqa starting from the day they get married or even the day that they enter puberty. They do that because their ancestors have been doing it for centuries. It is a tradition that dates back to the pre-Islamic era. So it’s rather a cultural tradition than it is a religious one.

A beautiful quote said by an Omani Bedouin woman to end with: “We wear the burqa not because we feel ashamed to appear without it, but because it is nicer to appear with it.”


Written by Hafsa Elazzaoui

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Hafsa Elazzaoui is a 20-year-old language student with Arabic and English as her main courses. She has a passion for food and fashion.