Every time I see or hear about these “war scarfs,” as some refer to them, I think of the flawless city if Dubai. A keffiyeh is a head garment, traditionally worn by rural Arab males. It is a rectangular piece of cloth, folded diagonally and then draped over the head with aqal ring, the black cord looking thing, holding it in place. Traditional keffiyehs are black and white or red and white, but nowadays they come in every color of the rainbow.
The keffiyeh was not born on the selves of Urban Outfitters though. For many decades, it was commonly used to protect against the cold of winter or the desert dust of summer. Trademark attire of the former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the keffiyeh later came to represent Palestinian nationalism after the 1930s Arab revolt against the British Mandate and Zionist organizations in Palestine. It was this event that that first established the scarf as a symbol of resistance. It was worn in unity to make it difficult for the authorities to find the leaders of the rural-led uprising. However, the keffiyeh is not only Palestinian. Men in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab Persian Gulf states wore keffiyehs in colors and styles that were specific to their region. For example, Jordanians wore a red and white keffiyeh, where as Palestinians wore a black and white one. And a man from Saudi Arabia would likely drape his keffiyeh differently than a man from Jordan. Now a days though, you are likely to see many, both men and women, locally and internationally wear theses “war scarfs” as neckwear in a variety of patterns and colors.