As first lady Melania Trump and first daughter Ivanka stepped onto the tarmac Saturday, one thing was conspicuously missing from their fashionable ensembles: headscarves.
Going sans headscarves is nothing new for female Western dignitaries in recent years — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former first lady Laura Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May all chose not to wear the traditional Islamic head covering in recent visits with Saudi leaders.
The move, however, was notable as President Donald Trump once criticized then-first lady Michelle Obama for choosing not to wear a head scarf during her 2015 visit to Saudi Arabia with her husband, former President Barack Obama.
“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 [sic] enemies,” Trump tweeted on Jan. 29, 2015.
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 landed in Riyadh on Saturday and were greeted with much pomp and circumstance.
Saudi Arabia enforces a strict dress code, requiring Saudi women to wear long black robes called “abayas” and to cover their hair when in public. Foreign diplomats are not required to cover their hair when visiting. Melania and Ivanka both dressed conservatively, wearing floor-length dresses and pantsuits with long sleeves.
Middle East politics expert Christopher Davidson told NBC News it was “perfectly tasteful and appropriate” attire.
“We’ve now had a number of prominent Western women who have visited Saudi in recent months, Angela Merkel and Theresa May. Neither of them covered their hair, and they both wore trouser suits,” he told NBC.
The White House told CNN Melania and Ivanka chose to forgo the traditional hair coverings because they were not required to wear them.
But despite the experts’ opinion, it didn’t take long for the internet to sleuth out Trump’s old tweet and bring it back to haunt him.
— Copperbird (@copperbird7) May 20, 2017
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) May 20, 2017
— Sarah ???? (@SarahBKHere) May 20, 2017