From Speakeasy

Keffiyeh is a head-dress traditionally worn by men. It is a square of cloth about 4x4 feet in measurement, but sometimes comes in different dimensions. It is also spelled kaffiyah, keffiya, kaffiya, kufiya or alternately called a shemagh.



It comes in various colors, the popularity of which is associated with different regions of the Arab world. The plain white keffiyeh (called a ghutra) is most common in the Gulf region. The black and white checkered keffiyeh is associated with Palestine, while the red and white checkered is associated with Jordan. Sometimes the colors take on a political or religious context. For example, green and white checkered is associated with Islamic movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Red and white checkered keffiyeh is associated with Arab Socialism or communist parties, and the black and white checkered is associated with Palestinian or Pan-Arab Nationalism. Sometimes, the color doesn't mean anything and people just pick which color they like best.

Styles of wear

It is a popular article of clothing because it is very versatile.

Gulf style

One traditional way of wearing it is folded, placed on the head covering a bit of the forehead to form a visor, with an accessory called an agal on the crown of the head to keep the cloth in place.

Bahraini man wears a ghutra with agal (black cord)

Yasser Arafat style

A variation of this would be to fold the hanging ends of the keffiyeh or ghutra on top of the head. This is commonly called Yasser Arafat style.

Yasser Arafat

Terrorist/Anarchist style

Another way to wear the keffiyeh would be to use it as a face cover as well as a head cover. This is especially a good idea when out in the sand or when hiding one's face at a protest, riot or terrorist act.

One guy did it right, the other one looks a bit confused..

Ladies' style

Women sometimes wear keffiyeh as a headscarf (khimaar). PLO women and Iran's women Basij militia's parade uniform are examples of this. Some men also tie the keffiyeh under the chin, similar to the the shape of a woman's khimaar!

PLO lady

Basij militia with green keffiyeh under chador

Our last example is to wrap the keffiyeh like a turban.

Older man from Sabaa

Keffiyeh on non-Arabs

  • Some non-Arabs wear a keffiyeh around their neck to show their support of the Palestinian people.
  • Some anarchists and protesters wear it as a sign of resisting government oppression.
  • Some soldiers wear a shemagh in desert warfare, as it protects against the sun, sand in the face, and when dipped in water can cool the body.
  • Some emo kids wear it because they are fags who like to ruin cool things by associating themselves with it.
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