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What Is A Thobe? A Look Into Timeless Culture

"Close-up of a Thobe Company classic white thobe worn by a model featuring crisp fabric and meticulous craftsmanship, accessorized with a luxurious silver timepiece on the wrist."

The Thobe, also commonly spelled as Thawb due to its varied transliteration from Arabic, originated from the hot climates of East Africa and the Middle East. The Thobe is a traditional garment worn by men, which is draped over the shoulders like a shirt and falls anywhere from below the knee to above the ankle. 

Thobes, ideally suited for their region of origin, are typically worn in a white color and made from cotton material. They serve as a shield against the intense heat of the sun and the extreme humidity prevalent in these areas. In light of modern science, unbleached cotton, which is present in thobes, contains natural lignins acting as UV absorbers, safeguarding the skin from direct sun rays. The colour white, known for reflecting more light and heat, worn in clothes such as thobes, reflect sunlight and maintain a cooler body temperature in warm weather.

Take a look at the image below for a traditional Saudi Thobe

a model showcasing the classic white Saudi collar thobe, buttoned up the middle with cuffs. Styled with the a red keffiyeh, cultural leather slippers and a silver wristwatch on his right hand

Due to thobes originating from different Arab nations, the names which they are known as vary from region to region. Most commonly known as Thawb in many Arabian countries, Kandurah in the U.A.E, Djellaba in Morocco, Dishdasha in Oman and Kuwait, and Jubbah in the Indian Subcontinent. However, just as the name varies across different regions, so too does the style and design of this garment. The term “Thobe” is a broad term meaning ‘garment’, so while globally it may often be referred to as an “Omani Thobe“; in Oman, their particular style is simply known as a “Dishdasha.”

While thobes are mostly worn formally in many countries, some thobe variations feature short sleeves or a hood and are worn more casually. The Thobe has undergone a fascinating journey, its unique designs evolving through time while retaining its rich cultural essence. 

Thobes are typically worn by men. Although the style of the thobe, beginning from the shoulder and ending above the ankle is not worn by men in other parts of the world, it is a common practice for men in the middle east to do so. Women too, wear an attire similar to men’s, which also starts from the shoulders but extends below the ankle. This women’s attire is generally known as an abaya or jilbab.

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