9 / 2000

Saudi Arabia * Men's "niaal" camel hide sandal

"Hidah" is the Arabic word for footwear and "niaal" means "open footwear" such as a sandal. The niaal is without a doubt the most popular Arabian footwear which persists into modern times because of its practicality in a hot climate. Local sandals are made from camel hide with a sole consisting of several layers of leather, sewn together by hand with dried camel tendons or strips of coloured leather, pieces of felt and even strips of metal. Locally made niaals, however, tend to be very highly priced. Indian made cow hide copies with a big variety of geometric patterns woven from leather and plastic strips on the band of the upper are very cheap. The import of these copies is responsible for a decline in the local cobblers' trade.

Research and text by : W.A.H.M. Habraken-Oosterhout-Holland
Illustration by : Colin Ball - Waalwijk - Holland