First lady Melania Trump will join President Donald Trump as he arrives in Saudi Arabia this weekend, a country in which women are expected to dress in conservative fashion.
The president and first lady's visit to the Middle Eastern country marks the first leg of Trump's week-long foreign trip that will also include stops in Rome, Israel, Brussels and Sicily. In lead up to the presidential couple's Friday departure, all eyes were on style icon Melania Trump as she plans to immerse herself in a culture that prides itself on conservative attire standards that starkly contrast Melania's own fashion choices.
The first lady attends the 60th Annual Red Cross Gala on February 4, 2017, in pink Dior.
FLOTUS turns to The Row and Derek Lam to watch the Super Bowl at Trump International Golf Club Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 5, 2017.
Melania steps off Air Force One at the Palm Beach International Airport on February 10, 2017, in head-to-toe Michael Kors.
US First Lady Melania Trump wears Calvin Klein as she tours the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida, on February 11, 2017, with and Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
FLOTUS stuns in a black lace number with POTUS, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akke Abe at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on February 11, 2017.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump (in Karl Lagerfeld) welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on February 15, 2017.
US First Lady Melania Trump wears Alexander McQueen as she listens as her husband address a rally in Melbourne, Florida, on February 18, 2017.
Melania wears a white eyelet dress as she takes part in a ribbon cutting for the Healing Garden at the Children's National Medical Center on April 28, 2017 in Washington, DC.
FLOTUS walks into the East Room for an event for military mothers on National Military Spouse Appreciation Day at the White House May 12, 2017, wearing wide-legged black trousers and a crisp white blouse.
First lady Melania Trump walks across the South Lawn on May 19, 2017, wearing an orange leather skirt by Hervé Pierre.
US First Lady Melania Trump chats with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud on May 20, 2017 in a Stella McCartney jumpsuit.
Melania Trump leaves the MedStar Washington Hospital Center on June 14, 2017 in Washington D.C.
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump poses in Michael Kors for photographs with Lorena Castillo Garca de Varela, first lady of Panama, near the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, June 19, 2017.
First Lady Melania Trump arrive at the Congressional picnic at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 22 in a Mary Katrantzou dress.
First Lady Melania Trump arrives in New Jersey to spend a weekend at the Trump National Golf Club on June 30, 2017, wearing a high-waisted patterned skirt, a tucked-in white blouse and matching white pumps.
FLOTUS joins in the singing of the National Anthem at a Fourth of July picnic on the South Lawn of the White House in Esteban Cortazar.
Melania Trump walks to Marine One while departing from the White House on July 12, 2017, wearing black wide-legged trousers and a blazer.
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
FLOTUS arrives in Paris in Dior on July 13, 2017.
(Photo by Pierre Suu/Getty Images)
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As the Economist explains, Saudi Arabia is known for its varied versions of cloaks for women (jijab, niqab, burqa) that derive from the nation's foundational observance of sharia as state law.
"While all versions of Islam suggest a woman should dress modestly, often covering her hair and body, Saudi Arabia is one of the only Muslim-majority countries that legally imposes a dress code (Iran is another)," The Economist states. "Women, foreign and local, must wear an abaya (a few get away with long coats) in public places. Muslim—often equated with Saudi—women are said to have to wear a headscarf; foreigners needn't."
Melania Trump is not the first figure to face this style decision when traveling overseas, but rather joins a lineage of world leaders and presidential first ladies making their own call on whether to take part in the traditional Saudi Arabian style practice while visiting.
From British Prime Minister Theresa May to German chancellor Angela Merkel, there is a history of woman leaders going "hijab-free" as a way of making a statement during their foreign visit. Former first lady Michelle Obama sparked controversy in 2015 when she opted to not wear a headscarf during a ceremony honoring Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's death. Obama had previously donned a hijab in 2010, though, when she visited Jakarta's Istiqlal Mosque.
White House assistant Ivanka Trump and presidential senior adviser Jared Kushner will also be present on the trip to Saudi Arabia, after they received a rabbi's blessing to break the practice of observing Shabbat that is part of their Orthodox Judaism practice. The Saudi Arabian foreign minister's comments in regard to Melania Trump's attire while visiting likely also apply to the president's eldest daughter.
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.POTUS & FLOTUS
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