Royal Hats In Washington: Jordan, Bahrain & Kuwait

Jake Short, longtime reader, hat aficionado (follow him on Instagram or Twitter) and dear friend of Royal Hats, joins us today for the third part of an extended 2022 series on different royal hats that have been worn on visits to his home city, Washington DC. Thank you, Jake, for this leading us on another learning journey!  

In the US, when one mentions royalty, the British Royal Family is almost always the first to come to most people’s minds. If not the British Royals, then usually it’ll be another European royal family. But of the 29 independent monarchies that exist today (when one groups the UK and Commonwealth realms together), 13 are in Asia, and 7 of those are in the Middle East. Today we will look at the headwear worn by royals from of 3 Middle Eastern countries: Jordan, Bahrain, and Kuwait. 


The House of Hashim is the second oldest reigning royal house in the world (after Japan’s House of Yamato) and the branch of the family that remains on the throne in Jordan isn’t known to wear many hats in general (except for the keffiyeh, which is discussed below). This was no exception when visiting the US. King Hussein and his son Prince Faisal (half-brother of current King Abdullah II) both wore military officers caps during trips to the DC area in 1959 and 2012 respectively.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

While King Hussein’s last wife Queen Noor wore hats on visits to the UK and France, I couldn’t find any record of her in any sort of headwear in Washington, DC. Queen Noor was born Lisa Halaby in DC and for a time as a child, attended National Cathedral School.

2016 saw a different kind of hat on a Jordanian royal: a mortarboard cap worn by Crown Prince Hussein during graduation ceremonies as he received a bachelor’s degree in international history from Georgetown University in DC.

The first Emir of Bahrain from 1961 until 1999, Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa wore a keffiyeh to meet Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images
As illustrated in the photographs above, a keffiyeh is a traditional Arabian headdress. Made from a square scarf usually made of cotton, it is anchored to the head with an agal. While the keffiyeh is recognized as a cultural headdress, it is a practical one as well, providing its wearer protection from sunburn, dust and sand.
Emir Isa bin Salman’s son Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa changed his title from Emir to King in 2002. When his son, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, met with President Barack Obama in May 2015, he wore a keffiyeh anchored with the most traditional style of agal, a black cord woven from goat hair and worn wrapped twice around the head.
Embed from Getty Images


Finally, more keffiyehs were worn by Kuwaiti royals in DC. During President Lyndon B. Johnson’s final state dinner at the White House in December 1968, Emir Sabah Al-Salim Al-Sabah (Sabah III) and members of his retinue can be seen in white keffiyehs.

Embed from Getty Images

Sabah III’s successor was his first cousin once-removed, Emir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah (Jaber III), who spoke at the White House in 1990.

Embed from Getty Images

Jaber III’s second cousin Saad Al-Salim Al-Sabah was Crown Prince when he visited with Ronald Reagan in 1988. He would later rule as Emir Saad I for only 9 days due to ill health before being voted out by the Kuwaiti parliament the same day he submitted a letter of abdication. Jaber III’s younger brother Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (Sabah IV) was seen at the White House in 2018.

Embed from Getty Images

Following Sabah IV’s death in the fall of 2020, his younger brother Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (Nawaf I) became the Emir of Kuwait and remains so today. 

My next post will continue with headwear worn in Washington by royals from Oman, Qatar, the UAE and Afghanistan.

Most of our attention here at Royal Hats is paid to the European and Imperial royal houses where women are the primary hat wearers. It’s an interesting change to look at the monarchies where men wear the headwear!  Thanks Jake, for this addition to what is a fascinating series. 

Images from Getty as indicated