How to Tie the Arabic Headscarf in the UAE Skip to content
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How to Tie the Arabic Headscarf in the UAE

How to Tie the Arabic Headscarf in the UAE

The Arabic headscarf is a piece rooted in the history of the emirates, as far back as we can remember.

It's a symbol of its rich history, tradition, and cultural identity. If you're a local, you already know the history. But if you're a tourist, the scarf is something you must have seen a lot during your time here.

If you're going on a desert safari, you might have a new scarf to help with the sand and hot sun, but you're wondering how to tie it.

You could ask a local for help, but you'd really love to learn.

This article is for you. We'll walk you through the significance of the Arabic scarf and teach you how to tie it.

Sound good? Then, let's jump right in.


UAE Headscarf

What is the Significance of the Arabic Headscarf in the UAE?

The two very popular types of headscarves are the ghutra and shemagh.

Traditionally, locals wear it due to the harsh desert environment. During the day, the sun is intense, and at night, there is wind and sand.

The ghutra and shemagh give you a sense of belonging, even as a tourist, and help you connect to their heritage. While still having traditional value, headscarves now also transcend practicality.

They define how men and women dress. You can easily customize the fabric, color, and even how you tie it.


What Are the Different Types of Arabic Headscarves in the UAE

What Are the Different Types of Arabic Headscarves in the UAE

There are three types of scarves you'll find all around Dubai and the UAE.




The ghutra is a quintessential Arab headscarf. It's a large square piece of cloth, usually around 40 inches by 40 inches.

Traditionally made from fine, lightweight cotton, it offers comfort and practicality in the hot climate. The natural fibers breathe to regulate body temperature.

Most are white, representing purity and simplicity, but they also come in various colors, often in a checkered pattern known as a shemagh weave or other regional styles.




The shemagh is similar to the ghutra but made of thicker, heavier wool or cotton blends for insulation during colder desert nights or winter months.

Shemaghs feature bold geometric patterns or complex paisley designs, often carrying regional or tribal meanings. Traditionally used more by men, women now wear them too.




The agal is a thick, black cord usually made of goat or camel hair, used to fix the headscarf in place. It provides protection from the sun and is now made with various materials like wool and synthetic fibers.


Step-by-Step Guide on How to Tie the Arabic Headscarf


Step-by-Step Guide on How to Tie the Arabic Headscarf

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to tie any of the three Arabic headscarves without help.

Step 1: Fold the ghutra diagonally to create a triangle.
Step 2: Place the folded ghutra on your head, with the widest edge over your forehead and the ends hanging down.
Step 3: Twist one end of the ghutra to make a loose rope. Repeat with the other end.
Step 4: Cross the ends over your shoulders to the back and pull them over each other.
Step 5: Bring the crossed ends back to the front, resting on your shoulders.
Step 6: Wrap one end across your forehead, tie it behind your head.
Step 7: Repeat with the other end to fit comfortably and symmetrically.

Remember, you might need to try this more than once to get it right. Read our blog post on what to wear on a Dubai desert safari.



We've come to the end of this piece. Follow the steps mentioned, and you'll do just fine.

Here's a quick recap on how to tie any type of Arabic headscarf:

  1. Fold the ghutra
  2. Place it on your head
  3. Twist both ends
  4. Cross the ends over the back
  5. Bring the ends to the front
  6. Wrap one end around your head
  7. Wrap the other end around your head

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