albawaba.com (photo: Hadath)
An interesting article published in Al Bawaba discusses a new trend among young Saudi men choosing to go out publicly in what is viewed as their underwear. Yes; you read that sentence correctly.
The traditional dress of the Saudi male is a long shirt/robe which is called a thobe. The most common thobe is all white although depending on the season and weather, thobes are sold in different colors and types of fabric.
All men generally wear traditional undergarments underneath their thobes and especially when wearing a white thobe which can be easily seen through. The traditional undergarments are usually made of white cotton and consist of elastic waisted pants from the waist to the ankles; a white cotton t-shirt which may be either short sleeved or sleevless; and white briefs. The briefs are usually boxer style and can be fitted or loose.
It’s very common for Saudi men, young and old, to relax in the comfort and privacy of their homes wearing only the traditional undergarments. But to wear them out in public is similar to a Saudi woman going out in public without an abaya. Therefore, it is not surprising that this new trend of young men going out publicly in only their traditional undergarments is raising eyebrows and sparking mixed reactions.
It is evident that this is a type of rebellion and a new trend carried out by the young Saudis. For unlike the Saudi woman, the Saudi male has multiple choices on what is viewed as “acceptable” wear when out in public. He is not expected to cover from head to toe in black. He can wear Western clothes. He can wear shorts (down to the knees) when the heat is overbearing. No one will blink an eye at such attire.
I agree with the assessment in the article that the young Saudi men have too much time on their hands and not enough choice of activities. As a result, they want to test their boundaries and now that is publicly appearing in their traditional underwear.
Thus far there has not been an official ban or directive from Saudi’s religious and moral police (Haia) against the young men’s choice of wearing their traditional underwear in public. However, I would not be surprised if that changes if enough complaints are received that the sheerness of the material allows onlookers to see beyond the coverings of the underwear. Some of the fabric can be very transparent, even when the Saudi is wearing his thobe over his traditional undergarments.