NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – No matter where she goes, First Lady Michelle Obama causes a buzz about what she wears. And in Saudi Arabia, it was no different.
Some Saudis took to social media, questioning why she wasn’t wearing a headscarf when paying respects to the late King Abdullah. As it turns out, she was just fine without one, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reports.
“Nobody really mentioned the headdress, nobody in Saudi Arabia really cared about the headdress. Most westerners are welcome to walk the streets in Saudi Arabia without the headdress,” Dr. Ghassan Shabaneh said, chair of international studies at Marymounth Manhattan College.
In fact, Shabaneh said other top Americans have gone without headscarves in Saudi Arabia, including Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Madaleine Albright and former First Lady Laura Bush.
But Shabaneh said it wasn’t the lack of a headdress, but rather the color of the outfit she chose that really ticked off Saudis on social media.
“The average individual in Saudi Arabia was a little bit triggered by the fact that she wore colors that were not fit or suitable for somebody to come to a funeral or to pay respects or condolences,” Shabaneh said. “She wore blue.”
Black would have been a more appropriate outfit color, Brennan reported.
Shabaneh also showed CBS2 tweets complaining that the First Lady looked like she wasn’t enjoying herself.
And while Shabaneh said traveling to the Mideast is tricky, especially when cultures clash, he said it pays to educate yourself.
“You really need to pick up a brochure, a guide for the basics,” he said.
Not all the criticism on Saudi social media was negative, Brennan reported. Some said the First Lady should be given a break because the trip was last-minute.
Images of the Mrs. Obama without a headscarf were shown on state media, despite some claims that she had been blurred out.