Tales of Bahrain – Burqa

Having booked a holiday to a Muslim country where women wear Burqas had me slightly nervous to say the least.  As some of you may know, my children are very European and not at all prudish, so, I had to instruct the girls to please pack their bikini tops (no topless sunbathing this time…) and some longsleeved shirts and trousers. They could not understand why we would ever need those in the Bahraini heat, but I insisted and they were all packed into the suitcase.
Having gained a few ‘winter pounds’ myself, I was quite happy not to have to ‘show’ it all… so I too left well equipped and with the proper attire.

We arrived at the airport and I couldn’t help but feel a little intimidated by all the men in their white ‘gowns’ properly called a ‘thawb’ or ‘thobe’..the few women we encountered were dressed in Burqas and so my first impression was made.

I came in thinking all men here were evil and women had to be humble and had no rights whatsoever.

As we took our tours of the local shoppingmalls…yes, I admit I have to check those out before any other local sightseeing or museums…I started noticing that there does not seem to be a set of rules about how much of the Burqa outfit you are supposed to wear. Some women wear the complete thing, covering everything even the eyes…well, they have a bit of see through cloth so they don’t trip or bump into anybody as that is a big no no.  (I have to say that I wonder how the men recognise their own wives…do they carry some sort of tracking device ?!) Whereas other women only wear something on their head in the style of Amy Winehouse’s hairdo and skinny jeans look. Another group likes to wear the Burqa dress (abaya), but leaves out any hair or head accesories and then there are women that dress too tartish to even mention…..
Spending the afternoon at the Ritz one day I even saw a Burkini !!! Yes….a Burqa…bikini !!! It looks magnificent ! And to tell you the truth it would have looked better on me than my skimpy, barely covering my rolls, bikini. My only concern was how excruciatingly warm the whole thing looked… how cold it must feel when exiting the water … and also how drenched one must feel when wearing it all day at the pool as it is a one piece body suit type thing. They came in all colours and I have to say it made them look like someone straight out of a Star Trek episode….for those of you of the next generation….I guess Avatar would do too…

The proper every day Burqa’s are by no means plain black. I have seen them embroidered colourfully or even with Swarovsky crystals and diamonds and I swear I even think I saw one that said ”Juicy” in glittery letters on the sleeve !!! 😉
My sister informed me that there are many couturiers who design Burqa’s, it’s just not something I would ever have imagined, but there is a whole Burka Fashion World out there…. !!!

Therefore it is a faux pas not to accompany your beautiful designer Burqa by an even more expensive designer bag. And so a vast array of Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Gucci are trustworthy companions in this fashion ‘marriage’ ( you must pronounce this last word with a French accent for the effect…it sounds more sophisticated that way).

So, once my eyes had been opened to this I observed every single lady in a Burqa with great curiousity and admiration.
I also saw these same women out shopping with their husbands, (now to me that was a very progressive thing, as the ex hated going shopping for clothes with me…) patiently waiting on lounge chairs and of course happily paying for stacks of, what to me seemed useless buys as no one would ever see them wearing any of it. But even so it was all bought and probably worn underneath their Burqa and indoors when home alone.

It has intrigued me tremendously, and I have to say that being someone who feels that a person’s eyes are the doorway to their soul, I found it much more of an intimate experience to often only have their eyes to look at or into, much more so than any low cut top or maxi mini skirt could ever have revealed.

So I will one day leave here with a different view….

Muslim Burqa wearing women are fashionistas and like all women….they love it when the man picks up the tab !!!

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