Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Royal Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — First lady Melania Trump stepped off Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport Saturday morning without a head scarf — following the example of her predecessor, Michelle Obama — and potentially creating a stir in this conservative Islamic country.
Women here, including visitors and foreign dignitaries, are expected to be fully covered in public, including their head and hair, per religious and legal code.
Senior adviser Ivanka Trump, traveling as part of the presidential entourage, was also seen not wearing an abaya.
When Mrs. Obama visited with her husband in January 2015, her flouting of the custom was seen by some as a sign of disrespect to her hosts. The White House at the time said she intended to make a statement in a country where women have few rights.
One of those critical of her move: Donald Trump.
During the Obamas’ visit, Trump tweeted, “Many people are saying it was wonderful that Mrs. Obama refusing to wear a scarf in Saudi Arabia, but they were insulted. We have enuf enemies.”
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
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2015
The Trumps did seem to get a little political cover ahead of their visit from Saudi minister of foreign affairs Adel bin Ahmen Al-Jubier, who told local media last week, “We welcome any style of clothing.”
Al-Jubier said the government “usually doesn’t demand,” but makes “suggestions” to visiting female dignitaries.
One notable difference in the official agendas of the Obamas and Trumps: Human rights and women’s rights. The White House says President Trump will not make those issues a focus of his visit.
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