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Bedouins make their own clothes from the wool of their camels, sheep and goats. The design of the clothes is both functional and fashionable.

The traditional male Arab dress is a long white tunic, a sleeveless cloak and a distinctive headcloth. The tunic is loose fitting, allowing air to circulate, preventing sweat from evaporating too quickly and slowing dehydration in hot, dry air.

The headcloth or 'kufiyya' is the most distinctive part of an Arab's clothing. It is held on by heavy woollen coils or an 'agal'. The ends of the cloth can be wrapped around the face and neck. It acts as protection from the cold, a shield from the sun's heat, and a screen to keep the wind and sand out. The rope shows the wearer's ability to abide by obligations and responsibilities of manhood.

Women wear black, decorated garments on the chest. Their head and faces are protected by special cover called a bourque, as well as expensive jewels. Their clothes are loose fitting and shield the wearer from hostile elements.

Clothing, one of the few personal possessions they own, is culturally significant to the Bedouin. Tradition dictates that the clothes of the deceased be left atop the grave to be adopted by whatever needy travellers pass by.

When Lawrence crossed the El Houl, a barren plain near Nefudh Desert, on his way to attack Aqaba in July 1917, he observed the following:

"It was a breathless wind - and, as the day went on and the sun rose in the sky it grew stronger - By noon it blew a half gale, so-dry that our shrivelled lips cracked open, and the skin of our faces chapped; while our eyelids, gone granular, seemed to creep back and bare our shrinking eyes.

"The Arabs drew their head-cloths tightly across their noses, and pulled the brow folds forward like visors with only a narrow, loose flapping slit of vision."

Water | Food | Shelter | Clothing | Transportation | Navigation | Hospitality

Traditional bedouin dress
  Clothing is one of the few things a Bedouin owned  

Lawrence of Arabia