16 December 2018

May rejects wearing headscarf in Arabia

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Theresa May has eschewed the strict Saudi Arabian dress code for women, instead descended the steps from her plane with her hair showing.

The Prime Minister touched down in capital Riyadh to meet the Crown Prince and other dignitaries without a headscarf, having earlier said she would be a role model for oppressed women in Saudi.

She follows in the footsteps of other political figures including Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, in refusing to adhere to the dress code for women.

Saudi Arabia enforces a conservative dress code in public places which requires women to wear a full-length robe and cover for their hair, in keeping with other restrictive laws that include a guardianship system limiting women's movement and a ban on driving, but foreign visitors do not always follow protocol.

Ms May has said she hopes to be an inspiration to oppressed women in Saudi Arabia by showing people there "what women can achieve".

Defending a visit to the kingdom on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said she hoped to embody the fact that women can hold "significant positions".

She said: "It's important for me as a woman leader and as leader of the government of the United Kingdom to maintain the relationships that are important to us as a country, for our security, and our trade for the future.

"But I hope also that people see me as a woman leader, will see what women can achieve and how women can be in significant positions."

2017.04.04 / 18:44
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