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No, Michelle Obama didn't spark a backlash in Saudi Arabia

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Earlier this week Michelle Obama supposedly sparked controversy in Saudi Arabia by foregoing wearing a headscarf during a visit with her husband to pay their respects to the late King Abdullah.

Several reports about the supposed backlash over the First Lady not wearing a headscarf or a veil during her trip to the kingdom failed to mention one thing: there is no expectation that foreign women visiting will dress in the traditional abaya, wear a veil or headscarf and, in fact, Condoleeza Rice appears not to have worn a headscarf during the very same trip- to no international commentary or criticism.

The decision hardly sparked a Twitter storm, with an Arabic hashtag that translates as "Michelle Obama with no headscarf" or "Michelle Obama immodesty" being retweeted around 2,500 times in a country with around five million Twitter users.

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It is not out-of-the-ordinary for visiting First Ladies or female leaders not to wear a headscarf, as these women show:

Former First Lady Laura Bush didn't wear a headscarf when she visited Saudi Arabia with her husband in 2007

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Although she did try on a headscarf given to her by a Saudi doctor during a meeting with cancer survivors

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When Condoleezza Rice was Secretary of State, she too visited the kingdom without a headscarf

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As did former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her 2012 visit to the Gulf Cooperation Council Secretariat in Riyadh

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And German Chanceller, Angela Merkel, during her 2010 trip to the kingdom

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More: Did a woman read the news in Saudi Arabia without a veil?

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