The First Lady and President Donald Trump’s oldest daughter opted not to wear headscarves in in the religious country that enforces a strict dress code on its women, who are expected to be fully covered from head to toe when out in public.
The White House told CNN on Saturday that the Trumps were not required to wear a head covering.
Melania, 47, did dress conservatively, however, covering up in black Stella McCartney jumpsuit with a wide gold belt as she and her husband arrived at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport on Air Force One.
Presidential advisor Ivanka, 35, who is accompanying the couple on their trip to the Middle East and Europe along with her husband, Jared Kushner, was also demurely dressed in a long-sleeve Cedric Charlier maxi dress.
Earlier this year German Chancellor Angela Merkel also opted not to wear a head covering during a visit to the kingdom. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also skipped a scarf during her visit in 2012.
In 2015, then-First Lady Michelle Obama also went without a headscarf during a visit to Saudi Arabia, prompting criticism from the real estate mogul.
“Many people are saying it was wonderful that Mrs. Obama refused to wear a scarf in Saudi Arabia, but they were insulted,” Trump tweeted at the time. “We have enuf enemies.”
The country has a legally imposed dress code that requires Saudi women to wear an abaya, a dress that covers them from the neck to the ankles, in public. Some Muslim women opt to wear a niqab that covers their entire face only leaving their eyes visible, others wear a burqa that covers them from head to toe, with mesh covering their eyes. At home, or in all-female settings, the women can be less covered up. (Foreign women are not subject to the same rules.)
After visiting Saudi Arabia, Trump and his entourage will fly to Israel for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then head to the Vatican in Rome, where he will seek an audience with Pope Francis. The president will then travel to Brussels for a NATO summit, and a meeting of the G-7 industrial nations in Sicily.
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