Typically when women visit Saudi Arabia, they’re ordered to wear a headscarf. This was the case with Michelle Obama, and it has also been the case with numerous women before her.
It seems that the Saudis, however, have a different level of respect for President Trump and the First Lady Melania. In an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabian officials have openly said that they welcome any attire Melania wishes to wear.
From Russia Today:
“America’s first lady has not been “ordered” to dress conservatively in Saudi Arabia, the country chosen by her husband as his first official overseas destination. Along with meetings on the US president’s itinerary, there will also reportedly be time for entertainment in the lavish Arab kingdom.”
“While the choice of the first country to be visited by Trump as America’s 45th president has been widely discussed in the media, a question has arisen whether there is a chance to see the US president’s wife covered in a traditionally strict Muslim attire.”
Women who visit Saudi Arabia are routinely expected to wear a floor length dress known as an abaya, and a headscarf. They often face harsh social and legal penalties for refusing to do so, which means Melania is a huge exception.
Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, said that “We welcome any style in clothing,” on Thursday, and has even offered “lavish entertainment,” for President Trump and First Lady Melania.
“Trump is set to attend a royal banquet and hold bilateral meetings with the Saudi king, the crown prince and the deputy crown prince, as well as hold ‘a number of bilateral meetings and broader meetings with all Gulf state leaders’ during his two days visit to Saudi Arabia, McMaster said.”
” ‘He will meet and have lunch with leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries, where he will deliver an inspiring yet direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and his hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world,’ he told journalists, adding that the speech is ‘intended to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners.’ ”
“Several deals are expected to be inked in Saudi Arabia, spanning all kinds of industries from oil and gas to chemical sectors. The kingdom is also ‘in the final stage of negotiating a $100 billion arms deal,’ Reuters reported, citing a White House official.”
This meeting will set the tone for our relations with Saudi Arabia and other countries in the middle east for the next 3 1/2 years to come. If President Trump ever needed to use the skills he’s mentioned in the “art of the deal,” it’s now.
The Washington Post reports:
“That he chose Saudi Arabia for the first destination during his first foreign trip as president is significant, and the kingdom is keen to welcome him. Russian state media reports that Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has said that Melania, a former model, is welcome to wear ‘any style in clothing’ she wants in the country.”
Again, this is extremely rare, considering that when Western women visit Saudi Arabia, they’re typically pressured to wear the customary clothing. For example, Sweden’s government recently fell under harsh criticism for wearing headscarves during a visit to Tehran, despite the nation’s declared feminist philosophy.
Either way, many Americans are proud that Melania Trump isn’t pandering to a different culture—many believe that it’s time Americans become proud of our own culture, and seek to preserve it in the face of change.