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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
MaterialPolyester fabric, wool or cotton
Place of originArabian Peninsula, Levant, North Africa

Thawb or thobe (Arabic: ثَوْب lit.'dress' or 'garment'), is an Arab garment worn by inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula. It is also referred to as jubbah (Arabic: جُبَّه), dishdashah (Arabic: دِشْدَاشَة), and kandura (Arabic: كَنْدُورَة) in varieties of Arabic. The thawb is long-sleeved ankle-length traditional robe; it is mainly worn by men in the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, North Africa, and some countries in East and West Africa, with regional variations in name and style. Depending on local traditions, a thawb can be worn in formal or informal settings; in the Gulf states thobes are the main formal attire for men.[1] It is also worn by Muslim men in the Indian subcontinent due to its modest appearance, and is believed to be a sunnah,[2] and it is commonly referred to as jubbah.[3][4][5] The term "thobe" is also used in some varieties of Arabic to refer to women's attire, such as in Palestine and Sudan.[6]

Jellabiyas, a traditional garment mainly worn in Egypt and Sudan differ from thawbs, as jellabiyas have a wider cut, no collar (in some cases, no buttons) and longer, wider sleeves.

Gulf Arabs wearing thawbs in Oman.


The word thawb (ثَوْب) is a Standard Arabic word for "dress" or "garment". It is also romanized as thobe or thaub or thob.[7]

Name variations[edit]

Omani men wearing thawbs at the Muscat International Book Fair.
Iraqi men wearing the dishdasha.
Region/country Language Main
Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, Palestine Hejazi Arabic, Yemeni Arabic, Najdi Arabic, Bahraini Arabic, Palestinian Arabic Thawb/Thōb (ثوب)
Levant, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Khuzestan Levantine Arabic, Mesopotamian Arabic, Omani Arabic, Kuwaiti Arabic, Ahvazi Arabic Dishdāshah (دِشْدَاشَة)
United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya Emirati Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, Algerian Arabic, Tunisian Arabic, Libyan Arabic Kandūrah (كَنْدُورَة)/ Gandūrah  (قَنْدُورَة)
Central, South and Southeast Asia Bengali, Dari, Deccani, Malay, Pashto, Urdu Jubbah/Jobbeh (جُبَّه), Jibbah (جِبَّه)، Jubah (جُبَه)

Regional differences[edit]

The thawb is commonly worn by men in the Arabian Peninsula. It is normally made with polyester fabric, but heavier materials such as sheep's wool can also be used, especially in colder climates in the Levant.[8] The style of the thawb varies between regions. In Iraq, Kuwait, the Levant, and Oman, dishdashah is the most common word for the garment; in the United Arab Emirates and the Maghreb, the word kandura is used.

Gulf countries[edit]

In the Gulf states thobes are typically made with white or beige polymer fabric, with coloured wool thobes worn in the winter months. Thobes commonly worn by men and are considered as symbols of national and cultural identity, and are appropriate attire for formal occasions and religious ceremonies. In recent years, the thobes have become a popular fashion item, with many fashion designers adding their own modern twists to the traditional garment.

In some Gulf countries, thawb sleeves and collars can be stiffened to give a more formal appearance, front pockets and embroidery could be added and placket buttons can be covered, exposed, or replaced by zippers. In the UAE and Oman, men's thobes have no collar, use frog closures as placket fasteners, and include tassels; in Oman, tassels tend to be short, and in the UAE tassels extend to waist.


Sudanese woman wearing a traditional thawb

In Sudan, the term tobe is used to refer to women's outer garments.[6] In her book Khartoum at night: Fashion and body politics in imperial Sudan,[9] cultural historian Marie Grace Brown explained: "Meaning “bolt of cloth,” a tobe is a rectangular length of fabric, generally two meters wide and four to seven meters long. It is worn as an outer wrapper whenever women are outside their homes or in the company of unrelated males. The tobe's origins date back to the late eighteenth century when prosperous merchants in Darfur clothed their wives and daughters in large swaths of fine imported linen, muslin, and silk as a sign of their wealth and prestige."[10] In the context of urban culture in Sudan since the 1930s, new and often colourful styles of tobes became fashionable, as Sudanese women "expressed their growing opportunities and desires through fashion."[11]


The traditional Palestinian woman's long tunic is also called thawb (or thob, ثوب), and is generally considered women's Palestinian national dress.[12] It is richly embroidered with tatreez patterns, with different colours and patterns signifying various aspects of the wearer's social position and most importantly its unique village, town or city.[13]

Other occasions[edit]

A thawb is sometimes worn with a bisht (بِشْت), also known in other parts of the Arabian Peninsula as a mishlah (مِشْلَح) or ʿabāʾ (عَبَاء), meaning 'cloak'. It is usually worn on ceremonial occasions or by officials. A bisht is usually worn by religious clergy, but can also be worn at weddings, Eids and funerals. It may indicate wealth and royalty or sometimes a religious position. It was originally manufactured in Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and it is usually worn in the Arabian peninsula, Jordan, Syria and parts of southern Iraq.

According to H. R. P. Dickson,[14] Bedouin women would mount a brightly coloured thawb on a pole in front of a tent in order to welcome home a traveller or an important person coming to visit.[6]

Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Michigan and the first Palestinian-American woman elected to that body, wore a thawb to her swearing-in ceremony on January 3, 2019.[15] This inspired a number of Palestinian and Palestinian-American women to share pictures on social media with the hashtag #TweetYourThobe.[16] Like the ghutra, thawbs were also popular during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.


  1. ^ "Saudi instructs overseas officials to wear national dress". Arabian Business. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2023.
  2. ^ "Is the Jubbah a Sunnah? (Darul Uloom Beodand)". Darul Ifta, Darul Uloom Deoband.
  3. ^ "What was Prophet Muhammad's dress like?". Islam QA.
  4. ^ "Khirqah". Britannica.
  5. ^ "The journey of Sufism in India". Times of India.
  6. ^ a b c Campbell, Kay Hardy; Corman, Leela (March–April 2016). "The Gown That Steals Your Heart". Aramco World. 67 (2): 24–25.
  7. ^ admin (2023-02-02). "Everything You Need To Know About Thobes | Thobe Encyclopaedia". Al-Aniq. Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  8. ^ Jirousek, Charlotte (2004). "Islamic Clothing". Art, Design, and Visual Thinking. Charlotte Jirousek. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  9. ^ Brown, Marie Grace (2017). Khartoum at night fashion and body politics in imperial Sudan. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-1-5036-0152-9. OCLC 1113341178.
  10. ^ Stanford University Press. "Start reading Khartoum at Night | Marie Grace Brown". sup.org. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  11. ^ "'Khartoum at Night' looks at Sudanese history through fashion". University of Kansas Department of History. University of Kansas. August 9, 2017. Archived from the original on May 30, 2020. Retrieved May 25, 2019. expressed their growing opportunities and desires through fashion.
  12. ^ Kassis, Reem (2023). We Are Palestinian: A Celebration of Culture and Tradition. Studio Press. ISBN 978-1800783287.
  13. ^ Debre, Isabel (February 12, 2019). "Iconic Palestinian robe fashions a new political symbol". AP News. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  14. ^ Dickson, H.R.P. (2015). The Arab of the desert : a glimpse into Badawin life in Kuwait and Sau'di Arabia. New York, NY: Routledge. OCLC 919302946.
  15. ^ Jennings, Rebecca (January 4, 2018). "Rashida Tlaib's thobe and Ilhan Omar's hijab are making congressional history". Vox.
  16. ^ Zrarick, Karen (January 3, 2018). "As Rashida Tlaib Is Sworn In, Palestinian-Americans Respond With #TweetYourThobe". The New York Times.