Men must wear two pieces of white, unsewn, plain cloth as part of the Ihram – an Izar (waist-wrapper) and a Rida (covering for the upper body, like a shawl).
It is also recommended that you take another set of Ihram clothing in case your Ihram becomes impure. Remember, you will be in the state of Ihram for three days and two nights during the Hajj. Your Ihram clothing can also be used as towels, blankets etc. at a later stage.
For women, there is no specific garment that must be worn in the state of Ihram. Your dress should be plain, inconspicuous and not for the purpose of beautification.
Saudi Arabia has a very hot climate so avoid taking very thick articles of clothing with you. The considerable physical exertion of the pilgrimage and the inevitable perspiration that comes with it will feel somewhat uncomfortable, so it’s a good idea to take comfortable, loose-fitting cotton garments for everyday wear.
You don’t need to take a huge amount of clothing with you. In the hot Saudi Arabian climate one set of clothes usually lasts one day so keep this in mind when you’re packing. Take clothes that require little to no ironing, are easily washed and are appropriate for the journey.
If you are travelling during the winter months, from November to February, you may want to pack a light sweater or jacket to wear in Madinah, which tends to be fairly cool during the night and the early part of the day.
For men, the Saudi Thobe / Jubbah and the Indo-Pak Shalwar Qameez are ideal pieces of clothing for everyday wear. Thobes / Jubbahs are readily available for purchase throughout Saudi Arabia.
For women, although it isn’t a requirement, wearing an Abaya is the most convenient option because it is loose, it isn’t transparent and doesn’t reveal the body’s figure. Abayas with breathable, soft and flowy fabric are the best option for the hot climate. Alternatively, the Indo-Pak Shalwar Qameez or any piece of cultural clothing can be worn as long as it fulfils the following requirements:
- It’s made from a fabric which does not stick to the body nor does it reveal the body’s figure.
- It’s loose and not tight-fitting.
- It’s sufficiently thick and long so as to not reveal the body.
- No attractive scent emerges from it.
Women must also wear a headscarf (Hijab). Soft, airy, light cotton headscarves are the best option for everyday use.
Poor footwear often leads to problems during Hajj. It is not uncommon to see people with blisters on their feet or with swollen feet and ankles as a result of poor footwear. Therefore, it is vitally important to use the correct footwear.
It is generally not a good idea to buy a new pair of shoes for Hajj. New shoes require wearing in i.e. worn to the point they become better fitting and more comfortable. Shoes that haven’t been worn in may cause pain and discomfort. Therefore, you should stick to a comfortable pair of shoes that you have already been wearing. If you don’t have suitable shoes, buy a pair well in advance and wear those shoes while walking or exercising so they can be worn in.
Whilst you’re in the state of Ihram, your ankles and the top part of your foot (around the shoelace area) need to remain uncovered. Therefore, a flat, soft pair of sandals is recommended. These are ideal for going to and from the mosque and are much easier to carry in your hands whilst in the Haram.
It’s also worth taking a pair of trainers / sneakers for when you’re not in Ihram. This type of footwear is ideal for performing Rami during Hajj as they provide grip and balance. Please note that you won’t be able to wear them whilst performing Rami on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah as you will still be in a state of Ihram (if you’re male). However, you will be able to wear them thereafter. Avoid wearing trainers / sneakers to the mosque as they can often be quite bulky and may well get lost in the Haramain.
You may also want to take a small plastic bag or a cloth string bag with you to place your footwear inside when you’re inside the Haramain.
Laundry services may be available as part of your Hajj or Umrah package so this is something that you’ll want to query with your travel agent. If not, there are a number of professional laundry facilities available in Makkah and Madinah although these laundry facilities can be quite expensive, particularly during the Hajj season as prices increase. If you do plan to do your own washing, washing powder and washing soap is available in supermarkets.
Although toiletries are readily available in Makkah, it’s a good idea to arrive well-prepared with the following:
- Toothbrush / Miswak *
- Toothpaste *
- Shampoo / conditioner *
- Bar of soap *
- Liquid soap *
- Toilet rolls / pocket tissues *
- Wet wipes *
- Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer *
- Deodorant / antiperspirant *
- Hairbrush / comb
- Shaving machine / disposable razors
- Suction hook
- Small mirror
- Small scissors
- Sanitary pads
- Toiletries bag
* Must be fragrance-free while in the state of Ihram.