Under wraps: Style savvy Muslim women turn to turbans

Once a typically male accessory, the turban is breaking the mold

Shounaz Meky
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Fashionable turban head covers are all the rave as women who seek to cover their hair raid their closets for stylish looks that offer an alternative to the hijab.

Once a typically male accessory, the turban is breaking the mold and is being picked up by many Muslim women across the region.


“The new ways of wearing the hijab is becoming a new global phenomenon,” Lezley George, professor of fashion at the Heriot Watt University in Dubai, told Al Arabiya News. It combines the desire to look Muslim and appear more fashionable, George added.


“Variation in the world of turban styling” is one reason why many girls like the trend, according to George. “What they find exciting with the headscarf in general is the way you can customize it and personalize it.”

‘Practical’ for different occasions

Sara Adel, a fashion blogger and digital designer living in Dubai told Al Arabiya News that the turban-style hijab gives more head-covering options to Muslim women, especially in hot weather.

“On some days, I have to shoot outdoors and it’s a relief to wear a turban on a sunny day,” Adel said.
Like Adel, Jihad M’nasria, a Tunisian TV producer based in Dubai, said that due to the long hours she spends in the heat a turban is a practical choice.


“I do find it practical and chic,” said M’nasria.

“Personally I’ve been wearing Hijab since I was 13 years old and I’m bored of wearing it the same way over and over,” she added. “I tend not to be a routine kind of a person and hijab kind of limits you to some head-wear styles.”

Heba Ashraf, an Egyptian dentist, told Al Arabiya News that the turban style is “very practical” for celebratory occasions such as weddings.

“It is a change because we Hijabi girls sometimes get bored of looking the same all the time so we like to change it up,” Ashraf said.


Meanwhile, George said some girls like to wear the turban while travelling to abroad, as it makes veiled girls look less typical and is seen by some as more fashion savvy.

Is it modest enough?

While some may regard the style as a proper head cover, others argue that it cannot be considered a proper Islamic veil.

“Some consider it not modest enough because there are different types of turbans which might expose your neck,” George said.

“Some might be critical that you’re not covering sufficiently,” she said. However, people perceive modest dressing differently.”

To those who think wearing a turban is not modest enough, Ashraf says wearing under- garments to cover up the neck and the ears can be used “if you think it is revealing.”

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