henna, bahrain, bahraini, gulf, khaleeji, arabic, naqsh al hina, henne, body art

Design from Bahrain

Henna done in the Arabian peninsula has a distinct look, usually referred to as ‘gulf style,’ (khaleeji).  It consists of dense clusters of small grouped elements, contrasted with large,carefully laid out areas of white space. The clusters of floral or organic shapes are often connected by lacy, jewlery-like trailing vines or tendrils. There are often large areas of flat fill (like leaves) that contrast with the delicate floral motifs.

There is no animal, bird, or human imagery used. The motifs are largely botanical, and sometimes include geometric shapes like squares or circles, filled with lacy filigree or spiral shapes.

Another popular look is fingers filled with dense motifs, filled fingertips, and then open palms with loosely spiraling plant forms like sheaves of wheat or tulips, or jewelry-like chains of dots circling across the palms.

The coating of the whole bottom of the foot, or whole palm is also popular, particularly in rural areas or with older women. Two other interesting aspects of body art in the Arabian peninsula are the technique of bread dough resist with henna, done in Saudi Arabia, and the use of khidab, a black ink employed for body painting mainly in Yemen, which is made from oak galls.

Traditionally prepared khidab does not contain PPD. Khidab just means ‘pigment’ in Arabic though, so sometimes the word is used to sell PPD products, outside of Yemen.

For a selection of henna designs from the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, look at the menu tabs at the top, which are sorted by country…Some of these designs from the gulf region are “gulf style” and others have a different look. Have a look and see if there are any you like…

Dubai henna design, United Arab Emirates, by Liz Ging
Dubai henna design, United Arab Emirates, by Liz Ging
Henna from the Arabian Peninsula by Liz Ging

Cover design of the book!

Also, if you are looking for more  henna designs from the gulf region, you may be interested in my book, Henna from the Arabian Peninsula, which contains over 50 designs from Oman, Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. The book contains a mix of single hand designs, matched hands, and foot designs. It is on offer for sale at

4 responses to “Khaleeji

  1. i’m now checking daily ur site and i must say wonderful, i just wonder how come ur henna is so super dark ?
    ur work is really beautiful, urs and henna trail’s just wow!

    • sweetfernstudio

      Hi Maya, Thanks for the comliments! I’m glad you’ve found some interesting information on my site.
      As far as what I put in my henna, it’s pretty simple: henna powder (usually Jamila or Sahara Tazarine), lemon juice, sugar, and tea tree or cajeput essential oil. That’s it! I patiently wait for dye release, by putting the henna in a plastic bag, sitting it on top of a sheet of white paper, and waiting for the paper underneath to start getting orange marks from the released dye…That’s all there is to it…

  2. oh yes i’ve found a lot which i didn’t know b4 :) thank u for spreading ur knowlage miss

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