Babylon & Beyond

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SAUDI ARABIA: Clothier sets record for world's largest Arabic robe

February 26, 2010 |  8:40 am


One surefire way to generate buzz in the Middle East, be it for a cause or a company, is to set a world record. From the Israeli-Lebanese hummus wars to the most expensive cellphone number ever sold, Guinness World Records continue to be a source of pride, controversy and, most importantly, publicity.

Last week, Saudi clothing company Lomar made its own buzz when it unveiled the world's largest "thobe," a traditional tunic worn by Saudi men, at the Red Sea Mall in Jeddah.

The garment is 111 feet long, 56 feet across, and weighs 880 pounds, beating the previous record set by a group of Palestinian women in 2009. More than 20 tailors worked for over two months to complete it.

“The idea of creating the largest thobe in the world occurred to me for several reasons," Loai Nasim, who founded Lomar with his wife Mona in 2005, told the Saudi English-language newspaper Arab News. "I wanted to give my appreciation to Jeddah.... We at Lomar are happy we have been a part of this."

Lomar, which takes its name from a combination of "Loai" and "Mona," is known for pushing the envelope with Saudi menswear. The label offers a modern spin on the traditional white robe with bolder colors, sportier, form-fitting material, and trendy additions like polo collars.

Holding such a flashy event in Jeddah, a relatively liberal enclave in the ultra-conservative kingdom, is probably a smart way of reaching out to Lomar's target demographic of young, affluent Saudi men looking for a hipper version of their fathers' threads.

Hundreds of people turned out to see the giant thobe, including Prince Fahd bin Meshari.

“This is the first time Lomar has held an international event," Nasim told Arab News. "It won’t be the last time."

--Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Over 20 tailors worked for two months to create the world' largest thobe, a traditional men's tunic. Credit: Lomar website

Video: Lomar's spring 2009 collection offers a sporty take on the traditional thobe. Credit: Lomar official website via YouTube