By Innovation-sa on March 22, 2018 in News

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman remarked that abayas are not a necessity for women, as long as they wear a “decent and respectful attire”. This historic statement signals a new progressive trend towards modernization in the deeply conservative Muslim nation.

Women in Saudi Arabia are currently required to wear abayas- the loose-fitting, full-length robes- which are a symbolic of Islamic culture. The Crown Prince’s remarks come amid moves to modernize the Kingdom and relax restrictions on women.

“The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of sharia: that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men. This, however, does not particularly specify a black abaya or a black head cover. The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear”, the Crown Prince said in an interview with CBS television.

Women who do not wear abaya in places where they may be seen by men who are not related to them face being chastised by the religious police. In 2016, a Saudi woman was detained for removing her abaya on the main street in the capital city of Riyadh.

However, Saudi Arabia is currently embracing a more open and tolerant interpretation of Islam and has begun to loosen social restrictions on women, who can now attend mixed public sports events and will soon be allowed to drive cars on the roads of the Kingdom.

Last month, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, said that women should dress modestly, but this did not necessitate wearing the abaya. However, it still remains unclear if these remarks indicate a change in the women’s dress code in the Kingdom.