Melania and Ivanka do without headscarves

Ms Ivanka Trump at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh yesterday with her husband and senior White House aide Jared Kushner. Above:Mr Donald Trump and First Lady Melania looking at a display of Saudi modern art in the Saudi Royal Court with Saudi King Sa
Above:Mr Donald Trump and First Lady Melania looking at a display of Saudi modern art in the Saudi Royal Court with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Ms Ivanka Trump at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh yesterday with her husband and senior White House aide Jared Kushner. Above:Mr Donald Trump and First Lady Melania looking at a display of Saudi modern art in the Saudi Royal Court with Saudi King Sa
Ms Ivanka Trump at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh yesterday with her husband and senior White House aide Jared Kushner.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Ms Ivanka Trump at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh yesterday with her husband and senior White House aide Jared Kushner. Above:Mr Donald Trump and First Lady Melania looking at a display of Saudi modern art in the Saudi Royal Court with Saudi King Sa
The US President later received a medal from King Salman.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

RIYADH • US First Lady Melania Trump stepped off Air Force One, the presidential plane, with her head uncovered after arriving in Riyadh with her husband Mr Donald Trump yesterday.

The President's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka also did not wear a headscarf, which Saudi women are required to by law in the conservative Islamic kingdom.

In 2015, when then First Lady Michelle Obama chose not to cover her head during a visit, she was criticised by a prominent US businessman for "insulting" Saudi Arabia.

"Many people are saying it was wonderful that Mrs Obama refused to wear a scarf in Saudi Arabia, but they were insulted.We have enuf enemies," Mr Trump had said on Twitter in January 2015.

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Yesterday, the two women wore conservative, full-length outfits that covered their arms and legs and loosely resembled an abaya, the full-length robe worn by Muslim women. Mrs Trump wore all black, with long sleeves and flared pants, cinched with a wide, metallic gold belt, while Ms Trump sported a black-and-white dress with splashes of magenta.

Their decision to forgo a headscarf follows recent precedent.

Mrs Hillary Clinton did not wear a scarf when she visited the Saudi kingdom in 2012 as US secretary of state. Neither did German Chancellor Angela Merkel nor British Prime Minister Theresa May during their visits earlier this year.

However, it was a different story for Mrs Obama. Her decision not to cover her head when she attended the funeral of King Abdullah in 2015 sparked some backlash on Saudi social media, with some people tweeting under the hashtag #Michelle_Obama_unveiled, The Telegraph said.

Mr Trump did not use the hashtag but joined the chorus of Internet critics sniping about Mrs Obama's appearance.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 21, 2017, with the headline 'Melania and Ivanka do without headscarves'. Print Edition | Subscribe