How to Tie a Shemagh Around Neck? – Step-by-step Guide

Written by

John Cotton


Logan Miller

how to tie a shemagh around neck

The shemagh, or the keffiyeh, is a traditional headwear used by men in the Middle East. It is a cross between a bandana and a scarf used for various purposes. The shemagh serves a very practical purpose in arid environments by offering protection from the sun and the sand.

Outside of the Middle East, the shemagh has gained popularity as a piece of accessory. This article will give you the steps on how to tie a shemagh around neck.

Ways to Tie a Shemagh Around the Neck

As an accessory, there are several ways to wear shemagh around your neck:

  • Traditional head and face wrap
  • Tactical head and face wrap
  • Loose neck scarf
  • Tidy neck scarf
  • “Bandana” scarf

The traditional way is used for protection against the sun, wind, and sand. The tactical method became popular with military personnel who learned how to tie a shemagh SAS style while in the service. The most common way to wrap a shemagh is to use it as a loose neck scarf.

What to Prepare

You don’t need any other tool to wear shemagh around neck. You just need the shemagh itself. The traditional shemagh is made from cotton, typically 42 by 42 inches or 49 by 49 inches.

How to Tie a Shemagh as a Tactical Head and Face Wrap

Step 1: Fold the shemagh into a triangle by taking one corner and placing it together with the corner opposite it.


Step 2: Then place the Shemagh on your head like a bandana.


How to Tie a Shemagh in the Traditional Way 

Step 1: The first step is to fold the shemagh into a triangle by taking one corner and placing it together with the corner opposite it diagonally.


Step 2: Next, place it over your forehead. It should be between your browline and your hairline.


Step 3: Pull the right end around your chin and then pull the left end. Make sure that you do so tightly so that the shemagh will not come loose.


Step 4: Wrap the left side around your lower face and then tie it with the right end at the back of your head.


Steps to Tie a Shemagh Around Your Neck as a Loose Scarf

ways to wear shemagh

The following are the steps you can follow for tying a shemagh around the neck as a loose scarf. Remember that this is not the most traditional of the different ways of tying a shemagh. However, this style is more fashionable.

  1. The first step is to fold the shemagh into a triangle by taking one corner and placing it together with the corner opposite it diagonally. The fold doesn’t have to be precise. In fact, it is more fashionable to keep it messy in some way.
  2. The next step is to place the shemagh on your face. The folded edge of the scarf should just be below your eyes and cover your nose and mouth and the two corners on your shoulders.
  3. Take the two ends and then bring those over your shoulders and then tie them at the back of your neck. The knot should be tight enough to keep the scarf in place but loose enough so you don’t have difficulty breathing or moving your head around.
  4. You can now pull down the shemagh from your face so it can drape over your chest. As for the ends, you can tuck them away, or you can let them hang.
  5. Adjust the shemagh to get the most comfortable fit. Pull down the part of the shemagh which initially covered your nose and mouth. This is a matter of your personal style and comfort, so it’s totally up to you.

How to Use a Shemagh as a Tidy Neck Scarf

  1. Fold your shemagh into a triangle.
  2. The next thing to do is flip the scarf and place it on your back.
  3. Let one end hang on your chest, pull on the longer end and wrap it around your neck.
  4. Tie the two ends of the shemagh together. Then you can tuck the knot under the front part.

How to Tie the Shemagh as a Bandana Scarf

The shemagh can also be tied as a bandana. Actually, this is also a traditional way of tying this scarf for the Bedouin.

  1. Form a triangle with your shemagh and then place it on your head. The two ends should be on your sides.
  2. Take one end and wrap it around your head. Tuck the end under the wrapping. Do the same with the other end going in the opposite direction. When done, the back of your neck should also be covered.


Why Do Soldiers Wear the Shemagh?

Aside from being a trendy fashion item, the shemagh is also a favorite among soldiers. In fact, you would see special forces soldiers using the shemagh quite often. What’s the reason behind the popularity of this scarf in the military?

We’ve already mentioned that this traditional Middle East headgear is quite versatile, and that’s the main reason why soldiers love it. Many soldiers deployed in the Middle East took up the habit of wearing shemagh. They used traditional scarves for protection against the sun and sandstorms.

For soldiers, the shemagh has other uses. It protects hot gun casings from falling inside the shirt during gunfights. It can also be used as cover and camouflage when blending in with the surroundings.

They can also help to soak away sweat during a hot day. The shemagh can be very handy in the field for soldiers.

What Does the Shemagh Symbolize?

Because the shemagh has been adopted as a modern accessory, most people are familiar with it. However, many are unaware of the tradition behind this headgear and what it symbolizes. It has a long and rich history, and anyone who wants to use it should be familiar with it.

Known by many names such as keffiyeh, ghutrah, ḥaṭṭah, serwîn and many others names, it has recently been identified with the Palestinian struggle. It helps to know about the deep political connotations of wearing the scarf for some people.

Is It Offensive to Wear a Shemagh as a Scarf?

Because the issue of cultural appropriation is such a hot topic lately, many people are wondering if it is okay to wear a desert scarf for someone not from the Middle East. Some are worried they might offend others if they wear the shemagh, while it’s not part of their cultural heritage.

The truth is that for people who traditionally use this scarf, it is fine if outsiders use it too. You don’t have to tie a shemagh Bedouin style. You can use it in any way you want. You can even wear it like an operator or a soldier; it’s up to you.

It is just essential for you to be aware of what the shemagh symbolizes for some people. Also, if you are visiting the Middle East, there are certain shemagh colors to avoid because of what they mean to the locals.

For example, black and white and red and white have certain cultural connotations, and it is best not to risk offending anyone.

Is a Shemagh Religious?

Another thing that is bothering some who are planning on using a shemagh neck wrap is whether it’s religious. Using any religious item should not be taken lightly.

The shemagh is not directly religious, but because it is a traditional headgear in many Muslim countries, it has become associated with that religion. It is best to wear and use it in a way that will not offend religious sensibilities.


Whether you’re using it in hot weather to protect from the fierce sun or as a cover on head during a sandstorm, the shemagh will be a handy accessory with plenty of practical uses.

But it can also be a fashionable item that you can carry around. Hopefully, with this article, you have a useful guide on how to tie a shemagh around neck.

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