Melania Trump can ditch Saudi Arabia's traditional headscarf while visiting, says foreign minister

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.

According to Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, though, the first lady will not have to tone down her usual fashion choices.

"We welcome any style in clothing," Al-Jubeir told media on Thursday, according to RIA Novosti.

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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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