How to Tie the Arabic Headscarf

Have you seen the traditional Arabic headdress before? Fashioned from a rectangular cloth usually made of cotton, the ghutra, as it is known (in Arabic, it’s كوفية‎‎ kūfiyyah), is commonly worn by men in the UAE. Females wear what is called a Sheila. These can be more colorful. 

It's important to know that the ghutra serves many practical purposes. Firstly, it protects against sunburn. Normally it would be white, or white and red, helping to keep cool during hot days. Or, during cold nights, you can get a thick one for warmth. The ghutra also offers protection against dust and sandstorms, which comes in handy.

When you embark on a desert safari with Platinum Heritage, you will receive one as a gift to take home with you. It's important that you wear it correctly, to show respect to the local custom. 

You can follow the below guidelines to ensure your ghutra-tying skills are correct:

1. Fold the ghutra

To start, half-fold the ghutra. Do not fold it in half—rather, fold one end to the halfway point.

2. Place the ghutra on your head

When you put the ghutra on your head, place the folded half over the top of your head. The unfolded half should be on the back of your head and neck.

3. Twist the two ends

There are two ends hanging down over the front of your body. Give both sides two turns moving in the outwards direction (not in toward your body).

4. Pull the two ends over your back and cross

For this step, you will need some flexibility. Pull the two ends over your shoulders and cross them behind your head and neck. Doing this provides the ghutra with the signature bulge at the bottom of the headdress.

5. Bring the two ends back to the front

Once the two ends have been twisted and crossed, bring them back to the front side of your body (one dangling over your left side and one over your right side).

6. Wrap one end around your head

Take one end and wrap it over your forehead and around the back. Tuck and squeeze it into a pocket on the back of your lower head.
Note: Lines, or layers, are important to how the ghutra looks. Great ones can get 10-plus lines, which can be hard for beginners. Try for two lines or layers of cloth for the first end.

7. Wrap the second end around your head

The second end is what will be mostly seen by others. Wrap it around in the same manner. Again, try for two lines. Another thing you can do here is slide the end through to create a tail-like appearance on the side.

After that, check the back and front to make sure it all looks all right. Chances are you may need to try this process a few times before getting good. Remember: Practice makes perfect.

It’s time to wear your ghutra!

You’ve read the instructions. Next time you come to the UAE, put your skills to the test. You’ll not only look awesome and feel cozy, you’ll impress folks with your capabilities.