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King Faisal of Saudi Arabia meeting with President Richard Nixon of the United States in 1974, while wearing a black bisht with gold stripes.

A bisht (Arabic: بِشْت‎) or mishlaḥ (Arabic: مِشْلَح‎) or ʿabāʾ (Arabic: عَبَاء‎) is a traditional men’s cloak popular in the Arab world.[1] It is a flowing outer cloak worn over a thawb. It is usually black, brown, beige, cream or grey in colour. A bisht is usually worn for prestige on special occasions such as weddings, or festivals such as Eid, or for Jumʿah prayers. In Iraq it is worn by tribal chiefs. The bisht is also worn by East African nobility, including tribal chiefs, kings, and imams, over a kanzu or tunic.



Some theorize that word ‘bisht’ is derived from Persian word ‘posht’ (Persian: پشت‎) meaning ‘back’, as the bisht worn from back, though this is disputed. It was widely used in Semitic civilization, and an alternate theory is that the word bisht is derived from Akkadian ‘bishtu’, meaning ‘nobility’ or ‘dignity’.[2] The alternate name of ʿabāʾ (Arabic: m]عَبَاءة‎) which means ‘cloak’.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ *"Traditional & modern: The Saudi man's bisht". 7 November 2012.
  2. ^ Dr. Ali Fahmi khashim, Akkadian Arabic Dictionary Page 140

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