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Arab men wearing thawbs in Salalah, Oman.

A thawb or thobe (Arabic: ثَوْب‎ / ALA-LC: thawb) is an ankle-length Arab garment, usually with long sleeves, similar to a robe, kaftan or tunic. It is commonly worn in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, neighbouring Arab countries and some countries in East and West Africa. A sirwal or pants, izaar or lungi are typically worn underneath.


The word thawb is the standard Arabic word for 'a garment'. It is traditional clothing style for men. It is sometimes spelled thobe, thaub, or thawb. It is a tunic, generally long. The word is used specifically for this garment in Arab States of the Persian Gulf and some areas in the south of Egypt. There has been some debate regarding the correct length of the thawb.


The thawb is commonly worn by men in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and other Arab countries in the Persian Gulf. It is normally made of cotton, but heavier materials such as sheep's wool can also be used, especially in colder climates in Iraq and Syria. The style of the thawb varies slightly among the various regions within the Persian Gulf. The sleeves and the collar can be stiffened to give a more formal appearance. Other names may be used for this garment. In the Levant and Oman, dishdasha is the most common word for the garment; in the UAE, the word kandura is used. In Morocco, the sleeves tend to be much shorter so that the thawb may seem more like a long T-shirt and is locally called gandora. The neck also tends to be more open than in its Saudi counterpart and, along with the breast pocket, is often embroidered. It might also lack buttons altogether.

The term thawb is also used to refer to similar women's garments.[1] The traditional Palestinian woman's long tunic is called thawb. Another example is a very long, oversized woman's garment with a heavily embroidered front panel and billowing back, also known as a Khaleeji dress, which is most commonly seen in the West[where?] worn for performance of the Saudi women's social-style dances, in which manipulation of the large thawb is a key component.

This garment is also known as Kanzu in Swahili, and is commonly worn on the Swahili Coast by Swahili men.

Name variations

Region/country Language Main
Saudi Arabia Hejazi Arabic, Najdi Arabic Thawb (ثَوْب)
Levant, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Iran Levantine, Iraqi, Omani & Kuwaiti Arabic; Farsi Dishdāshah (دِشْدَاشَة), Deshdāsheh (دِشْدَاشِه)
UAE Emirati/Gulf Arabic Kandūrah (كَنْدُورَة)
Yemen Yemeni Arabic Zannah (زَنَّه)
Sudan, Upper Egypt, Libya Sudanese, Saʿīdi & Libyan Arabic Jilābiyah (جِلَابِيَة)
Maghreb Maghrebi Arabic, Berber Gandora, Djellaba (جِلَّابَة), Aselham
Somalia, Djibouti Somali Khamiis or Jelabiyad
Ethiopia Amharic, Afaan Oromoo Jelebeeya, Mudawwar
Eritrea Tigrinya Jehllubeeya
Indonesia Indonesian Jubah, Gamis
Malaysia Malaysian Jubah
Afghanistan Dari, Pashto Pērâhan (پیراهن),(kharqay)
Pakistan Urdu Jubbah (جُبَّه)
Bangladesh Bengali Thub, Jubbah
Palestine Arabic Thawb
Turkey Turkish Cübbe, Savb, Sob
Swahili Coast Swahili Kanzu
Senegal Wolof Khaftaan, Mbubb

Other occasions

A thawb is sometimes worn with what is known as bisht (Arabic: بِشْت‎) or in other parts of the Arabian Peninsula as mishlah (Arabic: مِشْلَح‎) or ʿabāʾ (Arabic: عَبَاء‎), meaning ‘cloak’. It is usually worn in ceremonial occasions or by officials. A bisht is usually worn by religious clergy, but can also be worn in a wedding, Eids and funerals. It may refer to a status of wealth and royalty, or sometimes a religious position. It was originally manufactured in Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and it is usually worn in Jordan, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula.

According to H. R. P. Dickson,[2] 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.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "The Gown That Steals Your Heart." Written by Kay Hardy Campbell, Art by Leela Corman. Aramco World. March–April 2016. Volume 67 (2), pages 24–25.
  2. ^ Dickson, H.R.P. The Arab of the Desert (RLE Saudi Arabia): A Glimpse into Badawin Life in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. 2015. []
  3. ^ "The Gown That Steals Your Heart." Written by Kay Hardy Campbell, Art by Leela Corman. Aramco World. March–April 2016. Volume 67 (2), pages 24–25.