Traditional Saudi ‘wazarah’ inspires Western fashion giants

The trending ‘mini-skirt’, left, comparing to a ‘wazarah,’ right. (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
Updated 01 February 2018
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Traditional Saudi ‘wazarah’ inspires Western fashion giants

JEDDAH: A woman’s skirt that was designed and released by a global clothes brand has caused a stir on Twitter in Saudi Arabia over its similar appearance to a traditional “wazarah” worn by men in Saudi Arabia and other Arab and South Asian countries.
The trending “mini-skirt” features a slightly different tying of the waist to make it look more feminine and is sold by Zara — one of the main brands of the Inditex group, among the world’s largest fashion retailers — in the UK for £69.99 ($100).
In its original version, the skirt is known as a “wazarah” or “fotah” in the Middle Eastern region and it is known as a “lungi” in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somaliland, Nepal, Cambodia, Djibouti, Myanmar and Thailand.
The Saudi designer of the contemporary luxury label, Hindamme, Mohammed Khoja, told Arab News, “This is an interesting piece by Zara, and clearly inspired by the traditional Arab undergarment otherwise known as a wazarah. I personally feel it’s a good thing that our traditional garments are influencing Western fashion giants such as Zara and appealing to a more global clientele as for a long time it’s been the contrary.”
Khoja added, “At the same time I also feel that their design team should acknowledge this reference; that would’ve made it 10 times more appealing rather than simply calling it a mini-skirt.”
Many people from Saudi Arabia tweeted about the design, making fun of its expensive price: @lll__Vll tweeted, “We can get a three-meter ‘wazarah’ for SR5 and you want us to pay £60?”
Another sarcastic commenter said: @arwagraphy, “For those who are upset with the price, you need go and ask the very first designer of ‘wazarah’ to sue the store (laughing emoji).”
The wazarah can be found in Saudi Arabia in local stores for SR10 ($2.70), with a variety of options in color and quality.
It is a type of sarong and a traditional garment worn around the waist. It is particularly popular in hot and humid regions.
Depending on local tradition, the wazarah is worn by men. They are tied or fastened in various ways and can be used in different cultural activities, ranging from normal daily life to elaborate wedding ceremonies.
For daily use, a simple “double-twist” knot is most popular, where two points on the upper edge of the lungi are brought together and twisted around twice, with the ends tucked in at the waist.


Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India will boost robust interactions that New Delhi has established with Saudi Arabia over the last few years. (Supplied)
Updated 29 min 26 sec ago
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Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

  • New Delhi’s participation in Kingdom’s mega projects a major aspect of renewed ties: Talmiz Ahmad

NEW DELHI: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s first visit to India is a landmark development in bilateral ties between India and Saudi Arabia, according to Talmiz Ahmad, a former ambassador to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is India’s largest supplier of crude oil, but since taking office in 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to use India’s growing economy to attract more investment from Saudi Arabia beyond energy, and foster cooperation on trade, infrastructure and defense.

Ahmad, author of several books on the Arab world and twice India’s Ambassador to Riyadh, said that while the backbone of New Delhi’s relationship with the Kingdom is energy, the two sides had been discussing “how to give greater substance and longevity to the relationship on the basis of concrete projects.”

Reuters reported this week that India is expecting Prince Salman to announce an initial investment in its National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, a quasi-sovereign wealth fund, to help accelerate the building of ports and highways. Saudi Arabia has also suggested investing in India’s farming industry, with an eye on food imports to the Kingdom. 

Ahmad said Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project, a $500 billion smart city in Tabuk province on the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, would also provide great opportunities for Indian companies. 

He added that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the crown prince’s blueprint to fundamentally transform Kingdom’s economy, presents another opportunity for Indian businesses to prosper from the relationship.

“India is extremely well placed,” said Ahmad. “We are world leaders in small and medium enterprises and in the services sector. Saudi Arabia also has proposals to develop its tourism and leisure sectors, and I believe India is also well placed in those areas too.”

He also discussed how the strategic partnership had been initiated by former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who visited Riyadh in 2010, but that Modi, who visited in 2016, had added “considerable substance” to the relationship.

He stressed, though, that Riyadh’s ties with India are independent of its relationship with Pakistan. He added India and Saudi Arabia were also working together to improve the security situation in Afghanistan, to resolve the 17-year conflict between government forces and the Afghan Taliban, as well as in the wider West Asia region. 

“India has excellent relations with all the countries in West Asia, and New Delhi is well placed to address some of the concerns that all the countries have with each other,” he said.