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Saudi lawyers refuse ‘abaya-like’ black robes

Justice ministry consultant says proposal put forward in public interest

Gulf News

Manama: A plan to have lawyers in Saudi Arabia wear black robes for official duties continues to face strong resistance from some quarters.

The plan was put forward three years ago, but some lawyers continue to say that they cannot accept it arguing that the black robes would make them look like women, said Nazeeh Abdullah Mousa, a lawyer in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

Women in Gulf countries wear full-length black robes, or abayas, in public. Gulf Arab men also wear cloaks over their kandoras on formal occasions.

“The obstacle to putting on the gown is basically the refusal of some lawyers who believe it would be like imitating women,” said Mousa, quoted by local daily Makkah on Tuesday. “Such excuses are not accepted and the lawyers should rise well above such ridiculous claims,” he said.

A justice ministry consultant, Majid Qaroob, said that the proposal for the black robes was still being studied and that it had been mainly put forward in the public interest.

In Bahrain, lawyers in 2008 agreed to don black robes as part of their profession. However, the head of the Bahrain Bar Society at the time said it was a matter of choice in the absence of any clause binding lawyers to wear the robe.

“The standard black robe attire is worn by male and female lawyers in most Arab countries and it is about time that lawyers in Bahrain started wearing it in order to distinguish them from other people,” Jameela Salman said.

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